How AgTech Startup Leaf Wants To Modernize the Farming Industry

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

green leaf drawing and rolling farm lands
Evan Xie

At least 50,000 acres in the state of California are estimated to be underwater after a record-breaking year of rainfall. So far this year, California has received nearly 29 inches of rain, with the bulk being dumped on its central and southern coasts. Farmers are already warning that the price of dairy, tomatoes and other vegetables will rise as the weather prevents them from re-seeding their fields.

While no current technology can prevent weather disasters, Leaf Agriculture, a Los Angeles-based startup that launched in 2018, wants to help farmers better manage their properties by leveraging data.


Right now, farmers typically track machine data, field boundaries, weather data, satellite or drone field imagery separately which makes it difficult to concisely view and manage a holistic picture of their farm’s data. Leaf, on the other hand, makes an API that can consolidate all these various feeds into one app.

The agtech company doesn’t sell its software directly to farmers. Instead, Leaf is selling its API to companies that have existing architecture and software that farmers use. Some examples include tractor maker John Deere, chemical and feed maker Wilbur-Ellis, or supplier GrowMark. These companies then offer Leaf’s platform as a way to integrate and better use their existing data.

“70% of acres in the United States have farmer-owned data, from machines, precision soil tests, [and] financial accounting,” explained Leaf CEO Bailey Stockdale. He noted that some of that data is already digitized, but the sheer volume of it and lack of a way to consolidate all these different feeds into one platform, causes farmers to under-utilize it.

And some farmers, especially those who’ve been farming their entire careers, are hesitant to embrace technology. “It's changing very quickly, but it's coming from a very low digital adoption place in 2023… to the point where it’s still a lot of handwritten records,” Stockdale said.

Elizabeth Fastiggi, Amazon web Services’ head of worldwide business development for agriculture, told dot.LA, “90% of what we build here at AWS is based on what customers tell us really matters to them.” Fastiggi said Amazon hasn’t invested in Leaf but wanted to begin selling its tools because “partners like Leaf are also helping our customers by building incredible applications to help farmers be more efficient, and more productive.”

Fastiggi added, “What we've done with Leaf, specifically, is a really important part of this next phase, which is helping the industry manage these very heterogeneous data types and addressing what we call interoperability.”

One aspect ripe for digitization is insurance claims. With the recent flooding in particular, the ability to get a fast return for damaged crops is key to a farmer’s ability to re-plant and start making money again. But the process of verifying damage is time-consuming, Stockdale noted. Crop insurance payouts were already on the rise because of climate change and global warming, but the storms this year are already costing California billions. AccuWeather recently estimated the total damage from storms so far this year could cost as much as $42 billion.

“Insurance companies, to validate claims, drive pickup trucks out to the fields and count how many plants fell down for every single claim,” Stockdale said. “People are screenshotting and printing out PDF reports and sending them to farm owners.”

Stockdale did add that “a lot of these insurance companies are starting to modernize as well,” and said he was optimistic that the trend of “more companies now embracing digital [tools]” to support farmers would continue. “I really want to push agriculture as far into the future as possible,” he said.

Regulation is also driving tech adoption among agriculture workers in the state. “You have to record which products you applied [and when], what you planted, when it was planted, [and] what the yield was, “ Stockdale said. “That alone is pushing many of these farmers to adopt digital technology because otherwise the burden of compliance is impossible.”

That said, most farmworkers are older. Producers aged 35 and younger only account for about 9% of farmers, and they’re the demographic most likely to quickly adopt digital tools. Which is to say, getting farmers onboard with this new technology won’t be easy. But Stockdale said he’s optimistic more farmers will embrace the technology as they try to cope with increasingly unpredictable weather and rising costs.

Furthermore, he noted that many family farmers are eager to maximize their profits to avoid selling, and will use technology to do so. “The generation of farmers today, the average age is 70,” Stockdale said. “There’s this succession planning component on everyone’s mind: ‘how do we keep this in the family, how do we continue in operation without having to sell to a big corporate farm?’”

https://twitter.com/samsonamore
samsonamore@dot.la
Fuel Innovation: 7 Unforgettable Team Building Experiences in LA
Image Source: Discover LA

In today's competitive business landscape, team building activities have emerged as a crucial tool for fostering a positive work environment, enhancing productivity, and crucially, improving employee retention. Studies have shown that such activities help employees feel valued, with one report indicating that 93% of those who felt appreciated were more motivated at work. Importantly, team building events may improve retention rates, as employees who feel connected to their colleagues and company culture are more likely to stay long-term. With these benefits in mind, let's explore some of the most engaging and effective team building activities available in Los Angeles.

Pickleball

Image Source: Modern Luxury Angelino

Pickleball is a fantastic team bonding activity because of the easy-to-grasp rules and gentle pace make it perfect for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. The game thrives on communication and teamwork, as players must collaborate and strategize to outplay their opponents, boosting team cohesion. Plus, the lively, fast-paced action sparks friendly competition and laughter, creating a fun and spirited atmosphere that brings everyone closer together. Los Angeles boasts numerous pickleball courts that are easy to rent if you have your own equipment. If you need additional assistance organizing your pickleball outing, there are plenty of full-service companies ready to handle every detail for you.

Resources: Pickle Pop, Corporate Pickle


Escape Room

Image Source: The Escape Game

Escape rooms are a great way to build camaraderie. They require participants to work together, combining their problem-solving skills and creativity to overcome challenges and puzzles. The immersive and time-sensitive nature of escape rooms fosters collaboration and communication. Additionally, the shared experience of tackling complex tasks and reaching a common goal helps build trust and foster positive emotions among colleagues.

Resources: The Escape Game, 60Out


Day Trip to Catalina Island

Image Source: Love Catalina

Catalina Island is a perfect day trip for a team because it provides a break from the usual work environment, allowing team members to relax and connect in a new setting. Shared experiences during the trip, such as exploring new places and participating in fun activities, help build stronger relationships and foster a sense of camaraderie. There are numerous team-building activities such as an arboreal obstacle course, an island tour, scavenger hunts and more.

Resources: Catalina Island Group Activities


Top Golf

Image Source: Topgolf

Topgolf is an excellent team building event because it provides an inclusive, relaxed atmosphere that accommodates players of all skill levels, fostering personal connections and improving team morale. The unique blend of competition and entertainment creates an ideal setting for building trust, enhancing communication, and revealing hidden skills among team members. Additionally, Topgolf offers structured team building packages with guided activities, discussion prompts, and lessons on culture, change, collaboration, and strategy, making it a versatile and effective platform for strengthening relationships and boosting overall team performance.

Resources: Topgolf El Segundo


SoFi Stadium Tour

Image Source: Discover LA

A SoFi Stadium tour offers a unique, behind-the-scenes experience of one of the world's most advanced sports venues, allowing team members to explore exclusive areas like premium suites, team locker rooms, and the player tunnel together. The tour provides a shared, memorable experience that can foster camaraderie and spark conversations among team members, regardless of their interest in sports. Additionally, the stadium's state-of-the-art features and impressive architecture can inspire creativity and innovation, while the group setting encourages interaction and collaboration, making it an engaging and enjoyable activity for teams of various sizes and backgrounds

Resources: SoFi Stadium Group Tours


Corporate Volunteering

Image Source: L.A. Works

Volunteer work serves as an excellent team building activity by uniting employees around a shared, meaningful cause, fostering a sense of purpose and collective accomplishment. It provides opportunities for team members to collaborate in new ways, often revealing hidden strengths and leadership qualities that may not be apparent in the regular work environment. Additionally, engaging in community service can boost morale, enhance the company's reputation, and instill a sense of pride among employees, leading to improved workplace relationships and increased job satisfaction.

Resources: Habitat for Humanity, L.A. Works, VolunteerMatch


Corporate Improv Sessions

Image Source: Improv for the People

A corporate improv class encourages spontaneity, creativity, and quick thinking, skills that are valuable in the workplace. It promotes active listening and collaboration, as participants must work together to create scenes and respond to unexpected situations, fostering better communication and trust among team members. Additionally, the playful and often humorous nature of improv helps break down barriers, reduces stress, and creates a shared positive experience that can improve team morale and cohesion long after the event.

Resources: Improv-LA, Groundlings, Improv for the People

🎬 Paramount and Skydance Are Back On
Image Source: Paramount

Happy Friday Los Angeles! Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth!!

🔦 Spotlight

Paramount and Skydance Media have rekindled talks to merge after negotiations abruptly halted in June. The proposed deal, contingent on approval from Paramount’s board, aims to combine Paramount’s extensive media holdings—including CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon—with Skydance’s film expertise showcased in hits like "Top Gun: Maverick." This merger signals a potential transformation in the media landscape, positioning the new entity to compete more effectively amid challenges from streaming services and the decline of traditional cable TV.

Led by Shari Redstone, Paramount’s controlling shareholder via National Amusements, the deal represents a pivot towards revitalizing Paramount’s strategic direction amidst financial struggles and shareholder concerns. The involvement of major investors like RedBird Capital Partners and David Ellison underscores the financial backing aimed at stabilizing Paramount’s operations and addressing its $14 billion debt burden. Importantly, the agreement includes provisions to protect National Amusements from potential legal challenges, addressing previous hurdles that stalled earlier negotiations.

The deal also includes a 45-day period for Paramount to explore alternative offers, highlighting continued interest from other potential buyers like Barry Diller’s IAC and media executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. This flurry of activity underscores the significant stakeholders’ interest in Paramount’s future and its potential as a key player in a rapidly evolving media industry.


🤝 Venture Deals

LA Companies

  • Sidecar Health, a startup that offers personalized health insurance plans to businesses that allow members to see any doctor and pay directly at the time of service, raised a $165M Series D led by Koch Disruptive Technologies. - learn more

LA Venture Funds


Download the dot.LA App

RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS
Trending