Nine early-stage agtech startups focusing on row crop innovations and sustainability are preparing for a week of intense virtual programming and the chance to pitch to a panel of farmers and aligned investors for a spot in Phase II of AgLaunch365. Teams will spend five days refining their value proposition, meeting with leading farmers and agricultural industry experts, and improving their pitch to investors.
This year’s Row Crop Challenge is focused on technologies that accelerate the adoption of sustainable production practices toward the farm-of-the-future, specifically outlined in the Cotton Trust Protocol that can be applied to other crops and cropping systems.
“We’re excited to see how the next class of ag tech startups are helping to reimagine our food and fiber production system from the ground up,” Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M. said in a news release. “AgLaunch is providing an innovation eco-system that is unparalleled anywhere in the nation with its farm-centric model. TDA is proud to be a partner in supporting these ag tech startups for the potential they represent for rural investment and job creation.”
Finalists for the Row Crop Challenge were selected using a panel of farmers from across the country as part of the AgLaunch Farm-Centric Innovation Model and are each addressing an identified problem in agriculture. AgLaunch’s model, catalyzed and supported by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, aims to position farmers to be competitive in a changing global marketplace.
The 9 startups participating in the Row Crop Challenge are:
- Agricision, Inc.: Agricision is an agricultural technology company founded by farmers, for farmers. ScoutX2, a drone-based method, collects data to determine crop and soil health, disease, stand count, and images of insects and weeds and stores them in an agricultural cloud database.
Location: Sedley, Virginia
- CropZilla Software, Inc.: CropZilla has developed a farm machinery telemetry analysis for optimizing field operations and supporting capital purchase decisions.
Location: Dublin, Ohio
- Global Neighbor, Inc.: Global Neighbor’s first product for ag, the weed seed destroyer, uses light to make weed seeds collected at harvest non-viable, thereby addressing the problem of escape and herbicide-resistant weeds in grain crops.
Location: Dayton, Ohio
- Index Biosystems, Inc.: Index Biosystems designs genetic traceability into food system products, like the genetically barcoded yeast product which can be used as a biological label alongside any food system product.
Location: Toronto, Ontario
- JLI Robotics: The Grain Weevil powered by JLI Robotics is a mobile robot that scurries across the top of the grain inside of a storage bin performing tasks that no human should ever do.
Location: Aurora, Nebraska
- LeafTech Ag: LeafTech Ag provides an integrated handheld digital lab and crop management solution for enhanced crop quality and performance.
Location: Greenfield, Indiana
- NECi: NECi develops reliable and cost-effective tools for nutrient management. NECi’s test kits enable users to obtain timely, accurate information on soil and crop health on-site,
Location: Lake Linden, Michigan
- ReEnvision Ag: The ReEnvision Ag Planter (REAP) system works to allow farmers to plant in more diverse conditions without the pain of compaction the current industry standard causes.
Location: Nora Springs, Iowa
- Spornado, Inc.: The Spornado early alert system for crop disease helps growers optimize their pesticide use. The wind-powered air sampler and highly sensitive DNA analysis allows farmers to know when crop disease is in the air long before it is seen in the field, enabling them to spray precisely; saving time, money, and yields.
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Row Crop Challenge finalists are competing for up to 6 spots in AgLaunch365 programming beginning in January 2021, where they will receive investment, services, and support, and will design their in-field trials with members of the AgLaunch Farmer Network. “We’re excited that our farmers and investment partners have selected such innovative technologies to be a part of our programming,” said Margaret Oldham, AgLaunch Business Development Specialist. “We know the founders will benefit greatly from the AgLaunch accelerator model which focuses on farmers engaged in early stage product development and support and coaching from best-in-class partners and mentors. Our goal is to help accelerate these technologies from idea to market to make a powerful impact on farms.”