Founder Spotlight: Karen Schuett, Founder & CEO, Livestock Water Recycling

Livestock Water Recycling: Creating value for  food producers by reducing the expense and impact of waste liquids

In the weeks leading up to Forbes-THRIVE Demo Day, we will highlight each of our startup companies, their technologies, and our reason for investing in them. This week, we highlight Livestock Water Recycling, based in Calgary, Canada and founded by Karen Schuett, which uses both mechanical and chemical treatments to remove manure contaminants and segregate valuable fertilizer nutrients at large livestock operations. Read more in the interview with Karen below and in ‘Why We Invested‘, a series written by our THRIVE Accelerator Manager, Jonathan Hua, that provides insight on how each THRIVE portfolio company aligns with our firm’s investment thesis.

 

  1. Can you talk about the LWR technology, and what kind of impact it has on the customer/farming operation? 

LWR creates value for food producers by reducing the expense and impact of waste liquids. The recently re-launched LWR2System is a proven, patented, commercialized nutrient recovery platform.Now equipped with data accumulation sensors for our subscription-based analytics program, the System reduces the volume of manure and bio liquids, concentrates nutrients into valuable crop fertilizers, and delivers a renewable, high-quality clean water source. At the height of the farm-to-table social movement consumers are demanding transparency. This technology is designed to achieve optimized production, maximum crop yields, and a high return on investment, while minimizing the environmental impact of food production.

Livestock producers who have installed the system have been given back the control of their water and waste stream. They can avoid adding expensive manure storage and can expand their herds to feed more people without increasing their water footprint. The water that is being recycled is making farms cleaner and safer for animals and employees. Farms are reducing the amount of freshwater that they are using for irrigation and are reducing greenhouse gas emissions by over 61%. Crop yields have also increased due to precision nutrient application.

 

  1. You talk about the circular economy – how does this kind of systems thinking inform what you do and what you are trying to achieve?

Environmental impact lies at the heart of the circular economy and the LWR manure treatment platform protects the environment while helping producers stay competitive. Our technology is designed to extract the maximum value from manure by recovering and segregating all the resources locked inside. Farms no longer have large volumes of dilute manure they are trying to get rid of, but instead have concentrated products that can create a manure economy.  This manure-based fertilizer is especially valuable to crops that are looking for organics and not synthetic fertilizers.

Farmers who install the LWR System can confidently say to their consumers that no resources were lost or wasted in the making of their products!

The key to our process is the ability to recover over 90% of the phosphorus in the manure solids as a dry fertilizer that can be re-used or sold.  This solid contains valuable organics that also regenerate soils.  The liquid fertilizer also created contains valuable micronutrients together with concentrated potassium and nitrogen.  Again, this is a saleable product.  This liquid can easily be applied with conventional irrigation equipment as it is solid-free.

 

Karen at SXSW, where she pitched before a panel of five judges and agtech and foodtech enthusiasts during the Land O’Lakes Copernicus Project installation

 

  1. One of the key tensions in climate-proofing/introducing new environmental practices to farming is that they are a financial drain on already strained farm operations- can you talk about the economics of LWR and why it is in a farmers best self interest?

Traditional manure management costs are high and add nothing to the bottom line of a large livestock operations. As an example, a1,000 cow dairy can spend $306,130 a year to get manure from the cow to the field and a dairy farm with 2,500 cows produces as much waste as a city with 411,000 people!Expansion of US farms is restricted due to a lack of available land for manure spreading and storage, limiting both food production and revenue growth. Dairy and hog producers are currently spending between 2-4¢/gallon on their manure management using outdated lagoon and spreading systems. By installing the LWR System, producers can reduce costs to 1¢/gallon or less.

In particular, dairies who are using this technology are also improving their milk quality and increasing production. When a barn is clean and dry, the cows are cleaner and more comfortable. When a cow lays down on clean, comfortable bedding, her blood flow increases, which increases her milk production. We have also seen a 30% reduction in somatic cell counts, and reductions in slippage, injury, and mastitis where our technology has been installed.  These added benefits show their can be economic uptick involved with improved environmental practices!

 

  1. Provide some of LWR’s key metrics in terms of financial impact, environmental impact, and how large the market is for a technology like this? 

LWR Systems that are installed across the US have a combined ability to recycle over 775,000,000 gallons of manure annually with the potential recovery of over 550 million of gallons of clean, reusable water!  That’s enough water to fill 829 Olympic sized pools, or the annual water consumption of over 15,000 Americans.

Our costs savings for farmers includes reductions on manure management expenses from 1-3 cents/gallon plus the potential to increase feed crop production. This increase is significant because feed crops are the largest single expense for livestock farmers.

Manure is the most exciting and significant opportunity we have encountered in our 20+ years in the water treatment industry due to the size of the market, the magnitude of the problem, the value proposition we can provide to farms, and consumer trends of transparency & authenticity. Our total available market size $77 billion and our serviceable available market is $8 billion. This includes dairy, hog, mixed waste anaerobic digesters, and beef cattle feedlot operations in the US alone.

 

  1. One fun fact about you (outside of founding and running LWR!)

Karen is a space enthusiast who is always on the look out for her opportunity for space travel.

SVG Ventures Announces its THRIVE V Seed Accelerator Cohort

 

 

April 4, 2019— Los Gatos, CA– The SVG Ventures-THRIVE AgTech platform announced today the nine startup finalists that comprise its 5th annual seed accelerator cohort.

Following 6 months of rigorous research and analysis these nine companies were selected from a global applicant pool of 275 companies across 67 countries. SVG Ventures-THRIVE will invest $100k in each company bringing their total investment portfolio to 39 companies and making them one of the most active AgTech investors in the sector.  Additionally SVG recently held a THRIVE-X Challenge at SXSW and invested $100k in the winning company, Agshift, and has also made a follow up investment in Microgen, one of its THRIVE III cohort companies.

The cohort’s technology categories range from big data & analytics (The Bee Corp, FarmX, Intelliconn, Wellntel, Livestock Water Recycling), to robotics (Tensorfield Technologies), next gen farms (Alesca Life Technologies), and biotechnology (Olombria, ProteoSense), and address key agriculture and food challenges such as food safety/security, labor shortages and resource constraint/environmental concerns.

The nine startups will participate in the SVG Ventures-THRIVE Accelerator Program, a four month program which kicked off in February and culminates at the Forbes-THRIVE Demo Day during the Forbes AgTech Summit on June 26 in Salinas, California. Over the course of the intensive accelerator program, companies will be provided live and virtual coaching covering topics such as go-to-market strategy, supply chain, field deployment, fundraising and global expansion. The accelerator program  emphasizes critical industry relationships and market traction by providing top tier agriculture, business and technology mentorship and connecting startups with THRIVE’s corporate innovation partners.

“Each year, we are truly impressed with the caliber of our startup teams and the quality of their technology solutions and this year is no exception,” said John Hartnett, founder and CEO of SVG Ventures-THRIVE. “We look forward to helping our THRIVE V startups succeed and scale their solutions for real impact in the food and agriculture industries over the course of the next few months.”

Register now for the Forbes-THRIVE Demo Day.

 

Introducing the THRIVE V Cohort- 2019

 

Creates next-gen urban farming solutions (i.e. in shipping containers) using advanced software technology.

Leadership: Tsuyoshi Stuart Oda, CEO

Location: China

Alesca Life is an agricultural technology company that builds weatherproof, cloud-connected farms to enable local food production by anyone anywhere. The startup was founded in August 2013, and over the past 5 years has developed hardware, IoT and IT products to modernize the agricultural industry and dramatically improve productivity, consistency, and efficiency.

 

Predictive data analytics and infrared technology for beehives to monitor hive-health.

Location: Bloomington, IN

Leadership: Ellie Symes, CEO

The Bee Corp’s product, Verifli applies data analytics to beehives to help growers ensure effective pollination through infrared inspection technology. The Bee Corp increases yield for farmers by monitoring the number, health and distribution of pollinating bees. Since launching the product February 2019, The Bee Corp has inspected over 6,700 beehives.

 

 

Precise irrigation optimization from a comprehensive sensor package.

Leadership: Tushar Dave, CEO

Location: Berkeley, CA

FarmX uniquely provides farmers with a complete monitoring and analysis solution that improves productivity immediately. FarmX scales quickly and appeals to all types of farmers with its analytics-service model. FarmX differentiates in its full-spectrum analytics offering which combine PCA, irrigation management, crop advisory services and adverse conditions monitoring into one simple solution.

 

Leading edge solutions for grain quality and quantity data acquisition, management, connectivity & remote monitoring.

Leadership: Ken Jackson, CEO

Location: Saskatoon, SK, Canada

Intelliconn manufactures and sells leading edge solutions for grain quality and quantity data acquisition and management as well as farm connectivity and remote monitoring and control solutions.

 

Creating value for  food producers by reducing the expense and impact of waste liquids.

Leadership: Karen Schuett, CEO

Location: Calgary, Alberta Canada

The LWR System is the only proven commercialized technology that reduces the overall volume of manure, concentrates nutrients into a valuable solid fertilizer, a crop additive liquid fertilizer, and delivers a renewable, high-quality water source.

 

Insect pollination solution that curates fly behavior to increase pollination and ensure greater crop yields.

Leadership: Tashia Tucker, CEO

Location: London, UK

Olombria uses specific species of flies to supplement bees as primary pollinators. Flies already do about 30% of the world’s pollination, but the Olombria technology substantially increases their effectiveness. They use advanced, natural chemical signaling and mapping technologies to choreograph their behavior, placing them just where the crops need them to be.

 

Solid-state biosensor technology for food safety testing.

Leadership: Mark Brynes, CEO

Location: Columbus, OH

ProteoSense LLC is commercializing RapidScan™, a solid-state biosensor technology for food stafety testing. ProteoSense’s high-sensitivity field portable system detects foodborne pathogens without incubation, reducing total test time from days to minutes – a 10x improvement over existing tests. Partnering with Taylor Farms, a leading producer of fresh-cut vegetables, ProteoSense is developing tests for Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, and Listeria – the primary foodborne pathogens – that can be administered on-site by non-technical personnel.

 

 

Collaborative robots that perform non-invasive, no-herbicide weeding using thermal micro-dosing techniques.

Leadership: Xiong Chang, CEO

Location: San Jose / Salinas Valley

Tensorfield Agriculture is building the next generation of agricultural machines, initially to address three primary concerns of growers worldwide: the cost and availability of labor, the threat of herbicide resistance and the anticipated legislative burdens around using existing herbicides. The science is clear: the only way to mitigate the threat of herbicide resistance is to reduce or end our reliance on them, with the only viable alternative being the development and commercialization of new strategies for weed control. They leverage our deep manufacturing ties in Shenzhen, China to iterate fast and produce robots that can scale to multiple geographies and crop types: robots that they believe are the future of maintaining our ongoing supply of safe, sustainable fresh food.

 

  

Wellntel’s groundwater monitoring technology and insight  make groundwater visible and manageable.

Leadership: Marian Singer, CEO

Location: Morro Bay, CA and Milwaukee, WI

Wellntel is a groundwater-level monitoring technology and information system company. They sell sensor equipment, field services and cloud-based data services to turn irrigation wells into real-time groundwater supply monitoring points. With Wellntel, farmers and growers get the groundwater supply and seasonal trend data they need to inform operational plans, measure progress and sustainably manage their resource.

 

 

About SVG Ventures-THRIVE

SVG-THRIVE is the leading agri-food innovation ecosystem, comprised of top agriculture, food & technology corporations, universities and investors. With a community of over 1,500 startups from 67 countries, the THRIVE platform invests, accelerates and creates unparalleled access for entrepreneurs to scale globally. SVG Ventures-THRIVE is based in Silicon Valley, California.

www.svgpartners.com www.thriveagtech.com