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A Madison agri-technology company that specializes in soil mapping has been sold to a Sunnyvale, Calif., company that is developing a complete information management system for farmers.

Trimble’s purchase Thursday of privately held C3 of Madison will lead to technology that allows farmers to make more cost-effective use of water for their crops, said Dan Rooney, C3’s CEO and founder.

Rooney said Trimble was the perfect buyer because it has the capabilities to make the best use of the information from C3’s strong, patented mapping technology.

“C3 creates unique information. Our technology tells you what’s there. But it’s how you make use of that information that’s the ultimate value. That’s what Trimble can do,” Rooney said.

Rooney did not divulge financial details of the sale but said C3’s three employees, including himself, are now working for

Trimble.

After C3’s technology is integrated with Trimble’s agricultural platform that includes systems from two other recent acquisitions, Trimble will have the capability of gaining key information from mapping the top four feet of the earth’s surface, Rooney said.

That will allow farmers to make precise decisions about irrigation, seed and fertilizer rates, and soil amendments, he added.

“Water is becoming more scarce and farmers need more crop per drop,” Rooney said. “It’s amazing how much water is wasted in agriculture. A lot of it is unnecessary.”

Such technology will become a key ally for farmers growing virtually every kind of crop, Rooney said.

Rooney, who received his Ph.D. in Remote Sensing and Spatial Information from UW-Madison, spun C3 off of a company he started in 1999 in Madison called Earthling Interactive.

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Rob Schultz has won multiple writing awards at the state and national levels and covers an array of topics for the Wisconsin State Journal in south-central and southwestern Wisconsin.