The Top 10 People In Precision Agriculture
3. Dr. Robb Fraley, Monsanto, Chief Technology Officer
This should come as a surprise to basically nobody, but Dr. Robb Fraley is a very busy man.
On the day we reached Dr. Fraley he had just returned to Monsanto’s world headquarters in St. Louis, MO, from trying to turn around the narrative on GMOs at a food industry conference in Boulder, CO, and was preparing to head to California the next day to meet with 300-400 startups looking for venture capital funding.
Such is a day in the life when you head up technology for one of U.S. ag’s largest (and most vilified) companies. Another recent development that is keeping Fraley quite busy is the news that Monsanto is teaming up with Microsoft to pledge $92 million to help fund agribusiness startups in Brazil.
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“Ag in Brazil is important to us, and the ability to participate in this VC fund is pretty exciting,” Dr. Fraley says. “We’ve had a long seven or eight year collaboration with the Gates foundation developing drought tolerant corn for Africa. Africa will be one of the hardest hit countries by drought in the coming decades and corn is the major carb in Africa.”
Fraley is also excited about the coming debut of Monsanto’s first RNAi-based product offering, which he describes as “a new corn rootworm trait to help farmers manage insects.”
“We’ve got some other cool things going on from the bio(logicals) side,” he adds. “We’re doing a lot of work with microbes, figuring out how can we improve soil health and crop growth by using microbes. As humans we all have a microbiome, and the same is true of a corn or tomato plant. We’re looking at using advances in data to improve yields by making sure the right microbe is right there next to the plant, where it needs to be.”