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AFN’s top news stories of 2021

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Today’s the last day of 2021 – which seems like just the right time to look back on the year’s top news stories, analysis, and opinion published by the AFN editorial team over the past 12 months.

We kicked off in January with a report revealing that formerly-married philanthropists Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates jointly own the largest private portfolio of farmland in the US.

This was the first in a flurry of connected top news stories about Gates and his agrifood interests; including our most-read report of the year, which detailed the Microsoft co-founder’s participation in a Reddit ‘ask me anything’ session where he discussed his farmland investments.

Other stories which racked up plenty of reads during the year included several which focused on incumbent ‘Big Ag’ and ‘Big Food’ corporates and their increasing involvement in the world of agrifoodtech: Cargill, John Deere, and McDonald’s were among those making the news.

What follows are the top 20 agrifoodtech headlines of 2021, as reported by the AFN team, published in 2020 listed by number of unique pageviews. For the top 20 guest features published on AFN this year, check out yesterday’s post.


1.Bill Gates tells Reddit why he’s bought so much farmland
March 22

2. Bill & Melinda Gates revealed as largest private farmland owners in US
January 14

3. Beyond Meat signs global supply deals with McDonald’s, KFC & Pizza Hut
March 1

4. Vence raises $12m to enable rotational grazing with virtual electric fences
April 28

5. AppHarvest completes SPAC merger to go public at $1bn+ valuation
February 2

6. Cargill open-sources Splinter, its ‘blockchain-like’ supply chain software
January 18

7. Tractor retrofitter Augmenta raises $8m in Series A round led by CNH Industrial
March 23

8. This startup says its new laser-armed weeding robot is already sold out for 2021
April 13

9. Cargill, Microsoft join $17m round for carbon verification platform Regrow
August 17

10. Cargill CEO MacLennan says plant-based will ‘cannibalize’ its protein business
June 9

11. Self-driving electric tractor startup Monarch raises $20m Series A funding
March 16

12. Gates can create world’s biggest agrifoodtech testbed, but needs to win over farmers first
February 11

13. Bowery bags ‘biggest-ever’ vertical farming raise with $300m Series C
May 25

14. John Deere acquires Bear Flag Robotics for $250m
August 5
[Disclosure: AFN’s parent company, AgFunder, is an investor in Bear Flag Robotics]

15. Bushel acquires Cargill & ADM’s GrainBridge
October 12

16. Jai Kisan’s fintech for farmers nets $30m Series A from Mirae Asset, Syngenta
May 30

17. PastureMap merges with Soil Value Exchange to create Grassroots Carbon
April 15

18. Is this the fastest-growing vertical farming business in the world?
March 11

19. FluroSat acquires Dagan, becomes Regrow in ‘resilient ag’ & carbon push
February 22

20. IGS banks $58m to cement its place as the John Deere of vertical farming
November 4
[Disclosure: AgFunder is an investor in IGS]


A total of 1,258,139 readers visited AFN in 2021, up 28% from 983,902 in 2020.

The top 10 countries over the 12-month period, in descending order by number of readers, were the US, India, the UK, Canada, Australia, Singapore, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and China.

By far our fastest-growing audience is in China, which saw readership numbers leap 240% year-on-year. However, the US — already the leading country by audience share — remains our biggest audience and continues to grow; it actually increased its share of AFN‘s overall reads from 40% in 2020 to 45% this year.

AFN‘s top 10 identifiable cities by readers were, in descending order, Singapore (Singapore), New York (US), London (UK), Paris (France), Los Angeles (US), Sydney (Australia), Chicago (US), San Francisco (US), Amsterdam (Netherlands), Melbourne (Australia).

Here’s wishing all of AFN‘s readers, sponsors, and supporters a very happy 2022. Enjoy your weekend, and rest assured we’ll be back reporting full time next week to start coverage on what we’re sure will be agrifoodtech’s biggest year yet!



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