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Billionaire Tom Steyer bets on weather stations to battle climate



Galvanize led a $40-million funding round for San Francisco-based Arable, whose weather equipment gives farmers information on how much sunlight and water crops are getting, and can help optimize when to irrigate or fertilize.

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Solar-powered weather stations that beam real-time information to farmers are the first investment for Galvanize Climate Solutions, the fund launched last year by billionaire Tom Steyer and Katie Hall to battle climate change.

Galvanize led a $40-million funding round for San Francisco-based Arable, whose weather equipment gives farmers information on how much sunlight and water crops are getting, and can help optimize when to irrigate or fertilize.

Such visibility is becoming increasingly important amid tight on-farm labor and with drought shrinking water reserves. At the same time, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has helped send prices for fertilizer and crops such as wheat to the highest ever.

“There’s so many different things we need to do better in agriculture in terms of both using the land more productively, but also using water, fertilizer and pesticides much more carefully,” Steyer said in a phone interview. “If you can’t measure those impacts and manage it using the information, then you’re doing everything by the seat of your pants.”

Arable’s clients include Treasury Wine Estates, who is trying to maximize scant rainfall in California, and the World Food Progamme in Mozambique, one of the countries most impacted by climate change. There’s room to grow in the field of providing extremely localized weather with costs surging from seeds to fuel.

“Across the industry and globally, it’s still a very low adoption of farmers who actually use data to drive decisions,” said Jim Ethington, the chief executive officer of Arable, in a phone interview. “That has shifted, the mindset of the market.”

The risk is that agriculture’s carbon footprint will increase from roughly a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions as more land is cleared to feed a rising global population.


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