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HARRY STINE INVESTS $5 MILLION IN AGTECH STARTUP SMART AG
Des Moines Register reports:

Iowa billionaire Harry Stine is investing $5 million in an Ames tech startup that developed software that takes the farmer out of the tractor.

Smart Ag, founded by Colin Hurd, provides a "plug-and-play" software system that automates tractors, empowering "farmers to leave the cab" and complete their operations faster and with less labor.

The investment comes five months after the company announced software that "fully automates a grain-cart tractor" used during harvest.

The company also plans future applications for tillage, planting and spraying.

Typically, farmers harvesting crops dump the grain from their combines onto carts, which tractor drivers then pour onto semitrailers that are hauled to elevators.

Smart Ag says its software application "performs the same function as a driver, only it is safer, and more reliable and sustainable."

Hurd, the 28-year-old Smart Ag CEO, said the technology can help solve a problem that many farmers face at harvest time: critical labor shortages.

Stine, founder of Stine Seed Co., said he's investing in the startup because it's dedicated to helping "farmers increase the productivity and profitability ... through innovation and technology."

Agriculture has always been about the development and application of new ideas. We are pleased to be on the forefront of this and see the value in the technology for our own seed production and farming operations," Stine said in a statement.

Stine made the investment through Stine Seed Farm, an affiliate of Stine Seed Co., the largest independent seed U.S. company. It's located near Adel.

Hurd said Stine's investment "extends beyond the financial aspects because of Stine Seed's reputation for innovation, technology and putting farmers first."

Seed entrepreneur Harry Stine is shown here at hisBuy Photo
Seed entrepreneur Harry Stine is shown here at his Adel, Iowa, demo field Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. (Photo: Rodney White/The Register)

Stine, 76, is one of the richest people in the world. He made his fortune breeding soybeans and corn and then licensing the genetics to companies such as Monsanto and Syngenta.

Stine is "someone recognized globally for his dedication to discovering new technologies and utilizing science to make farming more profitable," Hurd said.

Wisconsin-based Case IH, Iowa-based Kinze Manufacturing and other ag manufacturers are investing heavily in technology to build autonomous tractors, carts and other equipment.


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