AgLaunch July 2018 Newsletter

AgLaunch Notes
July 12, 2018

Recruitment for the next cohort of AgLaunch365 has begun! 

We’re looking for the next generation of agricultural innovation companies to join Phase I of our flagship program – AgLaunch365. Ideal applicants are addressing real world problems specifically targeting row crop production. Example problems include spray drift, herbicide resistant weeds, nitrogen and water management, automation and labor, robotics, precision planting, grain bin management and logistics. We are open to discussing other sectors and approaches so please let us know if you are interested and want to clarify if you would be considered.  AgLaunch365 participants will have access to investment capital, a fantastic network of farmers, and a proven process to grow really exciting companies in the agricultural innovation sector.  The application can be found HERE.

Sneed Brothers Farm.

Ray Sneed of Sneed Brothers Farm is a member of the AgLaunch Farmer Network a regional network trialing over a dozen new technologies this summer in row crops, vegetables, and livestock

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friends,

A few quick updates and then we’re back to farm visits, field trials and AgLaunch365 planning.

June saw us cover hundreds of miles to meet with Farmer Network members and see 2018 field trials in action. One thing’s for sure, the AgLaunch Farmer Network is a group of some of the most innovative, thoughtful, and hard working farmers. We’re glad to partner with them.

We’re underway with our first Knoxville Bootcamp, working with several startups from across Tennessee. Special thanks to UTIA, UT Research Foundation, Knoxville Entrepeneur Center, LaunchTN, and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture for their partnership in the program.

AgLaunch is planning two upcoming Field Days, please consider joining us for a morning of ag innovation, novel conservation systems, and new markets for crops. The first will be on August 2 at Growing Acres Farm in Savannah, TN. The second will be on August 9 at Agricenter International in Memphis, TN.

Kind regards,
Pete

AgLaunch’s Schuyler Dalton moderates a panel of AgLaunch alumni startups at the Knoxville Bootcamp this week. Participating entrepreneurs were: Jairo Trad, Kilimo; Chinmay Soman, EarthSense; Zack James, Rabbit Tractors.

RSVP for upcoming field days on August 2 and August 9, 2018

Growing Acres Field Day

Agricenter Field Day

Ray Tyler from Rose Creek Farm shows us the control center for his new automatic roll-up sides & climate control system designed for small scale vegetable production.

 

AgLaunch in the News

Stay up to date with these and many more updates by following us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

AgLaunch365 Call for Applications

Applications Open Until 08/13 for AgTech Startups to Participate in First Phase of AgLaunch365

Farm-Centric Program Assists in Field Trials & Attracting Investment

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (July 17, 2018) – AgLaunch Initiative is excited to announce applications are open for Phase I of its nationally recognized commercialization approach – AgLaunch365.  The program combines its leading accelerator approach with its network of innovative farmers in a flexible wrap-around model that revolves around the agricultural production cycle.  Teams that are accepted into AgLaunch365 are eligible to receive pre-seed investment from Innova Ag Innovation Fund, a $31 million Rural Business Investment Company whose limited partners are eight farm credit banks.

AgLaunch365 is revolutionizing the way agricultural innovation is brought to market,” says Matt Bell, Managing Director, Cultivian Sandbox Ventures. “AgLaunch365 accommodates the specific needs and timing of those working in the agricultural industry in a unique farm-centric model that is unparalleled in the industry,” he said.

Areas of interest include:

  • Precision Farming (management of inputs, soil, water & crop tech)
  • Farming Technology (new equipment, robotics & automation, harvest & storage)
  • Supply chain & Logistics (processing/productivity tools, diagnostics, & food safety)

Here are a few of the tools that AgLaunch365 participants will have access to:

  • Customized programming focused on agriculture from AgLaunch and lean method approach to scale growth and operations from Start Co.
  • Support from a national network of agricultural-focused mentors and service providers including Archer Malmo and Baker Donelson
  • Pre-seed investment and access to our network of ag & food VCs
  • Commercial scale field trials supported by a cost-share program 
  • Direct access to Farm Journal Media as an exclusive media channel partner, including behind-the-scenes access to events like AgTech Expo

“We are excited to participate in AgLaunch365 as the leading way to connect our farming operation with developers of new technologies in a way that is beneficial to both,” said Scott Fullen, President, Mid-South Family Farms.” “AgLaunch365 is bringing the right people – from investors, entrepreneurs, and those within the ag industry – to a region that supports innovation and agriculture,” he said.

AgLaunch365 operates in three phases (business model, field plan, and implementation) over a 1 year period, allowing startups to participate in the phase or phases that are relevant to each company’s stage of growth.   Entrepreneurs who participate in Phase I will have dedicated blocks of time for programming in Memphis, Tennessee, but also have flexibility to travel or be in the field to conduct normal business and assignments in-between programming.

Applications for Phase I are due by 5 p.m. CT on Monday, August 13, 2018. Phase I starts the first week of October 2018.

For more information on AgLaunch365 and access to the application go to: http://aglaunch.com/aglaunch-365

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About AgLaunch™ 

AgLaunch (www.aglaunch.com) supports agtech startups, builds collaborative farmer networks and addresses gaps in the regional food and ag innovation ecosystem. AgLaunch is a partnership with Tennessee Department of Agriculture and a network of farmers interested in helping create new opportunities.

AgLaunch May 2018 Newsletter

AgLaunch Notes

Vol. 5, No. 2                                                                  May 29, 2018

Friends,

I hope the summer finds you well! The spring brought many opportunities for AgLaunch and our teams. We were proud to host Steve Case, founder of AOL, and his Rise of the Rest tour at the Agricenter as part of their larger roadtrip stop in Memphis. Our teams were able to showcase their technology, and we were able to share our vision for the food and agriculture sector in the region. Memphis was well represented and many positive things happening in the city were recognized.

As summer is upon us, we’re settling into the keystone offering of our programming: Field Trials. In this issue, we want to profile a few of the technologies and farms working to ground-truth agtech innovations right here in the Mid-South Delta region. We are proud of the diverse group of companies and farms participating this year. It is indeed the largest group of trials we’ve ever executed.

Startups are working directly with farmers to test their technologies and collect meaningful data. New this year is a cost-share pilot project with Tennessee Department of Agriculture for Tennessee farmers trialing AgLaunch companies’ technology. Additionally, AgLaunch was awarded a $125,000 grant from Tennessee’s Agriculture Enterprise Fund to create model farms for innovation and research.

Additionally, this summer, we’re offering a first-time AgLaunch bootcamp in partnership with Knoxville Entrepreneur Center to serve Tennessee agtech teams. This week-long agtech bootcamp being held on the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture campus in Knoxville from July 9-13, 2018 allows teams accepted into the program best-in-class agricultural entrepreneurship programming and have access to investors, mentors, and farmers. Interested companies should apply here by June 8, 2018.

We continue to look forward to the fall and beginning a new round of Phase I programming, evaluating our field trials, and working to promote the food and ag sector in the Mid-South. Your continued support is so important for our work, and we value your partnerships. As always, if there’s something we can do for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Kind Regards,

Pete

Summer Field Trial Highlights

As our farmers and agtech companies deploy their technologies across farms in the Mid-South, we wanted to highlight some of the innovation happening and being tested in the region.

 

Swinetech
Matthew Rooda, SwineTech Founder and CEO, grew up in a family of pork producers and quickly learned the value of a good work ethic. In 2013, Rooda was working as an assistant farm manager and farrowing manager on a farrow to finish farm in Waterloo, Iowa. It was here that Rooda battled the historic problem of piglet crushing with no avail. The team had implemented all of the necessary caregiving procedures, but nothing seemed to solve the problem. Swinetech uses advanced algorithms and acoustic engineering to detect when a piglet is in distress by analyzing its squeals. In the moment of a crushing event, the SmartGuard® monitor communicates to the SmartGuard® wearable to tell the sow to stand up.

Working with Tosh Farms, based in Henry County, Tennessee, SwineTech will run a major trial focused on reducing infant mortality in swine operations. Tosh Farms will use 23 of SwineTech’s SmartGuard patches on more than 1,000 sows this summer in AgLaunch’s largest 2018 trial.

                                         Kilimo
Kilimo

Kilimo provides a decision support tool for irrigation management in extensive agriculture. Using satellite, climate, and on-site data, it feeds their proprietary Big Data engine to make the best possible irrigation prescription for each crop, improving yields up to 30% and water use efficiency up to 70%. Kilimo will be doing an irrigation management trial to determine if Kilimo’s solution provides some ROI when compared to the farmers’ best management practices (BMP). The target will be improving the gross margin of the crop by using less water and increasing yields.

Kilimo will be completing multi-site trials on pivot irrigation at Growing Acres, Mid-South Family Farms, Sneed Brothers Farm, and Norwood Farms to demonstrate the ease of use and efficacy of this technology against traditional irrigation decision methodologies.

EarthSense
 EarthSense is a robotics and machine-learning startup that is currently providing its TerraSentia robots to seed breeders and crop scientists to help them create better crop varieties faster by getting more accurate trait data from field trials. TerraSentia is a revolutionary new ultracompact, autonomous, smart robot for managing critical agricultural challenges like herbicide resistant weeds. EarthSense products currently in development will help farmers directly – including robots designed for field scouting as well as robots that can perform tasks such as weed removal throughout the season.

EarthSense will be testing its robots in real-world field conditions this summer with Mid-South Family Farms and collecting multiple data sets throughout the growing season at Brannon Farms.

microBIOMETER
microBIOMETER® allows you to estimate the microbial biomass in your soil in 10 minutes for 10% of the cost of a lab test. Results are read and stored on your cellphone or tablet and in the cloud for access across all your devices. microBIOMETER® measures the amount of microbes less than 100 µm in size in a sample of soil or compost tea – these are the microbes that form the basis of the food web. It is well documented that microbial biomass is the best indicator of soil fertility: nutrition poor and challenged soils have very low microbial populations and that successful remediation results in an increase in the microbial population. The nutrition available to plants in a growing season is mineralized by the microbial population. microBIOMETER has shown that the microbial population of a compost sample reflects its nutritional level.

microBIOMETER will be conducting trials this summer related to the microbial biomass in field using certain fertilizers, conservation techniques, and cover crops. They will be working with Sneed Farms, D&J River Farm, Batey Farms, and Rose Creek Farm to measure the effects of different management practices on soil microbial content.

GroGuru
GroGuru develops an application for monitoring and analyzing soil data. This enables growers to efficiently utilize limited water resources to help manage costs by providing them with real time and historical soil moisture, salinity, and temperature data.GroGuru will provide and install soil sensors that work wirelessly even when buried deep under the soil. These sensors can measure moisture and salinity thereby providing guidance to the farmers about optimal irrigation times and frequency, resulting in yield maximization. GroGuru will run trials at Norwood Farms this summer.

WISRAN
WISRAN is an agtech company providing live farming with an action-based business and process intelligence and measuring time variations of farming activities. WISRAN is developing a software-as-a-service platform to increase agricultural operation efficiency, initially targeting improving worker productivity and agricultural machinery logistics. The company has also developed a tablet equipped with an accelerometer and a GPS to be placed in each piece of agricultural equipment to source telematics data.

WISRAN is conducting field trials with Yeargin Farms and Growing Acres to track efficiency and equipment logistics this summer and fall.

AGLAUNCH AND OUR PARTNERS IN THE NEWS

Rise of the Rest Bus Tour Cultivates Stronger Support for Job-Fueling Startup Businesses, May 8, 2018

Memphis One of 10 Cities Selected for FAA Drone Pilot Program, May 9, 2018

Billionaires: They Are Just Like Us!, May 10, 2018

Turn Old Malls Into Vegetable Hothouses? Memphis Set to be Heart of Food Innovation, May 11, 2018

AgTech Startups Highlighted in Nationwide Bus Tours, May 15, 2018

Davos on the Delta Puts Memphis At Center of Agriculture World, May 16, 2018

First Round of Farmer-Driven Innovation Trials Announced, May 21, 2018

Precision Ag Bytes 5/23, May 23, 2018

OUR TEAMS IN THE NEWS

Ag Robot Speeds Data Collection and Analyzes Crops as They Grow, March 2018

Cross a John Deere with a Roomba, and You Get This Crop-Monitoring Robot, March 13, 2018

This Startup Just Raised $1.1 Million To Build Better Data Platforms For Farmers, March 19, 2018

Iowa City Drone Sprayer Company Gets Attention in Memphis, April 10, 2018

Rantizo: Precision Drone Spraying, April 11, 2018

Iowa Startup Power Rankings for April, April 30, 2018

Argentine Agtech Startup Kilimo Raises Expansion Capital, May 14, 2018

From L to R: Zack James, CEO and Founder of Rabbit Tractors, showcasing his quarter-scale model of his autonomous tractor to Steve Case as part of the Rise of the Rest tour stop in Memphis; EarthSense Founder and CEO Chinmay Soman and AgLaunch President Pete Nelson showing off the latest TerraSentia robot that will be participating in field trials this summer.

Stay up to date with these and many more updates by following us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

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NEWS: Applications Open for AgLaunch Bootcamp for Tennessee Agricultural Innovation Startups

Applications due June 8!

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (May 24, 2018) — Up to eight Tennessee agriculture entrepreneur teams will have the chance to participate in a week-long agri-tech bootcamp being held on the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture campus in Knoxville from July 9-13, 2018. The event is coordinated by Knoxville Entrepreneur Center (KEC) in partnership with AgLaunch, a statewide agricultural innovation program. Teams accepted into the program will experience best-in-class agricultural entrepreneurship programming and have access to investors, mentors, and farmers.

AgLaunch Bootcamp applicants must be located in Tennessee and can include:
• Small startup companies operating in the agricultural sector;
• Existing companies that are creating new innovations or product lines; and
• Student or faculty teams that are developing new innovations in agriculture.

AgLaunch Bootcamp applicants should be focused on addressing real problems in agriculture within the crop and livestock sectors. These include but are not limited to: automation and robotics, solutions to issues such as spray drift and herbicide-resistant weeds, financing approaches, water and nitrogen management, innovative livestock production technologies, food traceability and food safety, market access, and new equipment. AgLaunch and KEC will consider any new and novel idea in the agriculture and food value chain.

Teams in the program will have the opportunity to participate in AgLaunch365 programming during Fall 2018 and be considered for investment from Innova Ag Innovation Fund IV. The Innova Ag Fund is a $31 million venture fund backed by eight Farm Credit banks focused on agriculture innovation.

Tennessee-based entrepreneurs with an idea or an agtech startup who are interested in the intensive bootcamp can apply here. Applications are being accepted through 5 pm EST on June 8, 2018. Up to eight teams will be selected to participate.

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About AgLaunch
AgLaunch attracts, creates, and grows agtech startups, facilitates the development of new agriculture and food value-chains, and builds collaborative farmer networks in the Mid-
South, with a commitment to intentional inclusion. AgLaunch was formed through a joint initiative between Tennessee Department of Agriculture and Memphis Biowork Foundation. AgLaunch365 is a farm-centric innovation platform for agriculture designed to calibrate support with the specific needs of agtech startups and the agricultural industry. AgLaunch365 is made possible through partnerships with Innova, Start Co., TN Farm Bureau, Farm Credit Mid-America, Farm Journal Media, Archer Malmo, and Baker Donelson.

 

About Knoxville Entrepreneurship Center
Knoxville Entrepreneur Center is a business accelerator located in Market Square that
serves as the front door for entrepreneurs in our region, and a resource for anyone looking
to start or grow a business here. By nurturing and supporting a culture of entrepreneurship,
we are fostering innovation, creativity and job growth within our community. KEC is a place for networking, education and teaching others what we’ve learned. We are a mentor-driven business accelerator, a shared workspace and a source of mediocre coffee. As a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, KEC is funded through sponsorships, partnerships, grants and membership fees. In addition to support from the City of Knoxville and the State of Tennessee, KEC relies on the generous contributions of leading East Tennessee corporations, successful entrepreneurs and those who have a vested interest in the success of new businesses in our region.

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NEWS: AgLaunch and Tennessee Department of Agriculture Announce First Round of Farmer-Driven Innovation Trials

    

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (May 22, 2018) —

AgLaunch and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture announce the first eight farmer-led projects connecting farmers with pre-commercial technology for field testing. These projects are part of the AgLaunch strategy to attract, start, and grow new agricultural startup companies to and in Tennessee by connecting them with local farmers, while simultaneously helping farmers access new technology and market opportunities. The program is supported by Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

“This is a significant step forward in the mission to test new ag technologies in the real world, right on the farm,” Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton said. “Given the tremendous response and interest from Tennessee farmers, we believe this first round of trials is just the beginning. This program is strengthening the state’s reputation as an ideal location to develop innovations in agriculture.”

This program is developed through the AgLaunch Farmer Network and the Model Farm program coordinated by AgLaunch. The AgLaunch Farmer Network is a group of farmers from across Tennessee who are testing new innovations and participating in new marketing approaches to highlight progressive work on their farms. The Model Farm program is made up of a select group of farms which serve as centralized hubs to demonstrate new innovations and technologies at Field Days and other events.

Field trial demonstrations are scattered throughout Tennessee focusing on at-risk and distressed counties as a way of attracting new innovation and technology into those areas.

“Tennessee farmers are leading the region in creating a network of progressive farmers to help startup companies de-risk their technologies, while addressing major problems in agriculture,” said Pete Nelson, President and Executive Director of AgLaunch.

The following field-trial projects are currently underway with the following farms and agtech companies:

  • Kilimo, which helps farmers make better irrigation decisions, is conducting a multi-site trial comparing pivot irrigation management between Kilimo’s solution and existing methods. Participating farms include Sneed Brothers Farm, Growing Acres, Norwood Farms, and D&J River Farms.
  • Rose Creek Farms is piloting several technologies to facilitate more sustainable and economic production of vegetables including tomatoes and leafy greens on their organic farm in McNairy County.
  • MicroBiometer has a quick and inexpensive way to test for microbial activity in soil. This summer’s trials will test the MicroBiometer system on cover crops and organic agriculture. Participating farms include Sneed Brothers Farm, D&J River Farms, Rose Creek Farms, Batey Farms, and Yeargin Farms.
  • Norwood Farms is working with GroGuru to field test a monitoring system for irrigation recommendations that has been scaled in vegetables and is expanding into row crops.
  • EarthSense is testing an under-canopy plant phenotyping robot in field conditions to begin developing additional crop scouting and production practice applications specifically targeting herbicide-resistant weeds. Participating farms include Mid-South Family Farms and Jonah Brannon/Brannon Farms.
  • Tosh Farms based in Henry County with farming operations throughout Tennessee and Kentucky is partnering with startup SwineTech to run a major trial focused on reducing infant mortality in swine operations.
  • Yeargin Farms is leading an effort with Growing Acres Farms to collect data for WISRAN, measuringtime variations for farm management practices.
  • The management of these trials will be facilitated by another startup, AgriSync, which simplifies communication between companies, technicians, and their farmer customers.

Participants in the Model Farm program will be hosting a series of Field Days and demonstration programs to showcase technologies and to share best marketing practices. These events are open to farmers, food companies, agribusiness professionals, investors, entrepreneurs, and industry stakeholders.

The first Field Day will be held on August 2, 2018, at Growing Acres Farm in Savannah, Tennessee from 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. followed by lunch. If you would like more information, please email sdalton@aglaunch.com.

The AgLaunch Farmer Network program is open to all farmers. Interested farmers apply online here and are reviewed by an independent panel of experts in agriculture. Candidates selected for the Farmer Network are proven leaders already driving change in their communities. The Farmer Network is intentionally focused on recruiting a group of farms with diversity in size, crops farmed, livestock raised, and farming techniques. Members of the Farmer Network are eligible to participate in field-scale trials with collaborating agricultural startups and participate in a cost share program to offset the costs.

More information about AgLaunch and its programming can be found at aglaunch.com.

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About AgLaunch™ 

AgLaunch attracts, creates, and grows agtech startups, facilitates the development of new agriculture and food value-chains, and builds collaborative farmer networks in the Mid-South, with a commitment to intentional inclusion.AgLaunch was formed through a joint initiative between Tennessee Department of Agriculture and Memphis Bioworks Foundation. AgLaunch365 is a farm-centric innovation platform for agriculture designed to calibrate support with the specific needs of agtech startups and the agricultural industry. AgLaunch365 is made possible through partnerships with Innova, Start Co., Farm Journal Media, Archer Malmo, and Baker Donelson. www.aglaunch.com.

About Tennessee Department of Agriculture

The mission of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture is to promote wise uses of Tennessee’s agricultural and forest resources, to develop economic opportunities, and to ensure safe and dependable food, fuel, and fiber for all citizens. The Agriculture Enterprise Fund (AEF) is an incentive program that supports Governor Haslam’s priority of job creation and economic development by facilitating agricultural development in Tennessee. The AEF is a product of the Governor’s Rural Task Force. It is administered by the Department of Agriculture in conjunction with the Department of Economic and Community Development.

AgLaunch & TDA recognize the following farmers that are part of the AgLaunch Farmer Network:

  • Batey Farms, Rutherford County
  • Jonah Brannon/Brannon Farms, Henry County
  • D&J River Farms, Franklin and Lincoln Counties
  • Growing Acres, Hardin County
  • Harrison Dairy, Loudon and Monroe Counties
  • Mid-South Family Farms, Hardin, Haywood, Lauderdale, McNairy, Shelby and Tipton Counties
  • Norwood Farms, Henry County
  • Rose Creek Farm, McNairy County
  • Sneed Brother Farms, Shelby and Tipton Counties
  • Tosh Pork, Henry County
  • Yeargin Farms, Gibson and Weakley Counties

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AgLaunch March 2018 Newsletter

Friends,

It has been quite the winter! AgLaunch has been running full-steam ahead for the last few months. From hosting a convening with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research about cropping systems of the future to recruiting and supporting new agtech teams, we’ve been busy.

As you know, we moved to year-round focused programming with AgLaunch365. We continue to work closely with Innova and their USDA RBIC AgInnovation Fund IV  to invest in innovative agtech companies. We had three teams join us in the fall to participate in Phase I, where they worked with our partners at StartCo. to conduct customer discovery and develop a viable business model. Participating teams were:

This culminated with a showcase at the Farm Journal AgTech Expo in Indianapolis. Read more about the teams that participated in the Expo here.

As 2018 kicked off, so did Phase II of our programming. Our teams began working with agronomists, farmers, and researchers to develop comprehensive, 3-year field trial plans to begin “ground-truthing” their technologies. Joining the cohort for this phase was Rantizo.

For the second year, AgLaunch hosted the StartUp Station as part of the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show, the premier event for thousands of farmers to experience three floors of exhibits and to see the latest in farm equipment technology. The StartUp Station boasted fifteen of the most innovative agtech companies in the business right now. They pitched their ideas to a panel of expert farmers, industry leaders, and entrepreneurs.

As an additional benefit for the Phase II teams, they were able to connect with Congressman David Kustoff and USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and share their technologies with them directly.

Moving into the spring, we are in field-trial mode. Our teams are working directly with farmers to test their technologies and collect meaningful data. New this year is a cost-share pilot project with Tennessee Department of Agriculture for Tennessee farmers trialing AgLaunch companies’ technology. Additionally, AgLaunch was awarded a $125,000 grant from Tennessee’s Agriculture Enterprise Fund to create model farms for innovation and research.

Repeatedly this winter, I have been asked to share our vision, our model, and our work with members of state legislatures and, in February, I even testified about how agtech can revitalize rural America before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade. You can read my written testimony here.

We are extremely proud of the work we’ve done and how we’re growing. We want to thank Memphis  Bioworks and Tennessee Department of Agriculture for their continued support, and thank you for your role in building a truly transformational region and ag sector.

Kind Regards,

Pete

AgLaunch teams and partners with Sec. Perdue and Congressman Kustoff at the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show

EarthSense’s robot makes an appearance at the Farm Journal AgTech Expo in Indianapolis, IN

Phase I teams at the Agricenter International fish fry in Memphis, TN

Pete Nelson addresses the US House Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy, and Trade in Washington, DC

Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, AgLaunch, and TN Commissioner of Agriculture Jai Templeton at the National Farm Bureau Convention in Nashville, TN

K-12 Ag Ed Roundtable group tours Germantown Farm Park in Memphis, TN

Scott Sartor of IndigoAg speaks at the Memphis Food & Ag Innovation Meetup

WHAT WE’RE READING

EQUIPMENT: Tractor-Hacking Farmers Are Leading a Revolt Against Big Tech’s Repair Monopolies
Kyle Schwarting is a farmer by trade, and a hacker by necessity. His farm, about 20 minutes outside the city limits of Lincoln, Nebraska, is full of tractors and agricultural equipment, which he picks up in various states of repair from fellow farmers, fixes up, and resells. “I would say what I’m doing is hacking,” Schwarting tells me, gesturing to a Windows laptop and a USB-to-tractor cable he Frankensteined himself. READ MORE

SPECIALTY CROPS: Dan Barber’s Seed Company Seeks to Sow the ‘Democratization of Flavor’
Chef Dan Barber loves heirloom produce. But, after cooking with it for years, the world-famous author and advocate for sustainable food says he realized that there was an important reason these delicate fruits and vegetables would probably never make it to the masses. READ MORE

POLITICS: Trump Pledges to Boost Farmers and Rural America
President Trump lays out his plan to boost agriculture and prosperity in rural America. What’s at stake is more than a hill of beans. LISTEN HERE

YOUNG FARMERS: A growing number of young Americans are leaving desk jobs to farm
Liz Whitehurst dabbled in several careers before she ended up here, crating fistfuls of fresh-cut arugula in the early-November chill. The hours were better at her nonprofit jobs. So were the benefits. But two years ago, the 32-year-old Whitehurst — who graduated from a liberal arts college and grew up in the Chicago suburbs — abandoned Washington for this three-acre farm in Upper Marlboro, Md. READ MORE

INNOVATION: How Driscoll’s Reinvented the Strawberry
One foggy May morning, the Joy Makers, a team of scientists employed by Driscoll’s, the world’s largest berry company, gathered at its research-and-development campus, which is known as Cassin Ranch, in the small agricultural town of Watsonville, on California’s Central Coast. Before them was a table laden with plastic clamshells: red, white, and pink strawberries for the pipeline. Phil Stewart, an affably geeky, sandy-haired strawberry geneticist, offered me a yellowish-white specimen with rosy stains, like a skinned knee when the blood starts seeping through. READ MORE

NOTEWORTHY: This Tiny Country Feeds the World
In a potato field near the Netherlands’ border with Belgium, Dutch farmer Jacob van den Borne is seated in the cabin of an immense harvester before an instrument panel worthy of the starship Enterprise. From his perch 10 feet above the ground, he’s monitoring two drones—a driverless tractor roaming the fields and a quadcopter in the air—that provide detailed readings on soil chemistry, water content, nutrients, and growth, measuring the progress of every plant down to the individual potato. READ MORE

AGTECH & INVESTMENT: Ag venture capital: Here’s what investors are watching in 2018
Software, social media, and the latest wearable gadgets might be getting all the attention, but its the technological changes that are shaking up the agriculture market that are really going to change lives over the next decade. And it’s coming not a moment too soon. READ MORE

AGTECH & INVESTMENT: Will Bitcoin Work in Agriculture?
If you checked the Internet lately, you’ve probably seen the words Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain. I won’t describe them in great detail here, but Google is your friend. Currently, Bitcoin is the talk of the town gaining 1,000% in value in the last year and now is worth north of $10,000 a coin from $1,000 earlier in the year. Some say it’ll go to a million by 2020. READ MORE

AGTECH & INVESTMENT: This Robot Handles the Entire Process of Growing Lettuce by Itself
Inside a warehouse in the middle of the suburban office sprawl of San Carlos, a Silicon Valley town south of San Francisco, hundreds of heads of lettuce and herbs grow next to a mobile robot designed to move the plants as they get bigger. READ MORE

Stay up to date with these and many more updates by following us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook!

USDA Secretary Perdue Meets AgLaunch Startups at Mid-South Farm and Gin Show

Fifteen companies showcased in second AgLaunch Startup Station at 2018 Mid-South Farm and Gin Show

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (March 7, 2018) —

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue met with three AgLaunch startup companies as part of the AgLaunch Startup Station weekend held as part of the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show at the Cook Convention Center. Secretary Perdue attended the Farm and Gin Show to announce a new cost share program for cotton producers.

Rantizo, a recent graduate of the AgLaunch365 programming, was the overall winner for the event and will receive an all-expense paid trip and dedicated spot to pitch at the 2018 Farm Journal AgTech Expo in Indianapolis. 

“We were able to meet farmers and investors interested in our drone spraying technology. Their feedback and enthusiasm was incredibly valuable,” said Rantizo founder and CEO, Michael Ott. “Rantizo is honored to win the pitch competition, especially considering the strength of all the other companies. Our team will take the momentum from the Farm and Gin Show and use it to build great products that address farmer’s needs.”

The Startup Station boasted fifteen of the most innovative agtech entrepreneurs from across the country to showcase how their ideas will shape the future of food and agriculture. These agtech entrepreneurs are addressing on-farm issues with real-world solutions like irrigation management, farm-level efficiencies, and autonomous equipment.
  • AgHelp is an app and wrap-around services helping ag workers find jobs and resources.
  • AgriSync is a communication platform connecting farmers with trusted experts.
  • EarthSense is developing ultra-compact autonomous robots that use machine-learning to monitor and manage problems in agriculture, specifically to identify weeds and chemical-free methods of reliably eradicating superweeds.
  • Global AgSmarte has developed SmarteRoot, an irrigation add-on that increases absorption of water and nutrients for crops to increase yields.
  • Harvest Yield is an electronic record-keeping system to ensure accurate invoicing for custom harvesters.
  • Hintech’s first product, the Decimator, addresses tire damage from corn stalks, stand establishment issues due to interference from root balls, and residue decomposition in no-till systems.
  • Kilimo provides a decision-support tool for irrigation management in agriculture by using satellite, climate, and on-site data.
  • Microbiometer is a quick test used to estimate the microbial biomass in soil in 10 minutes for 10 percent of the cost of a lab test. 
  • Newton RFID has created EquipassID, the world’s first read/write injectable RFID device to store vital regulatory and health information for horses.
  • Persistence Data Mining is developing a non-intrusive remote hyper-spectral soil analysis to service large tracks of open farmland.
  • Rabbit Tractors is building swarm-enabled, autonomous tractors that are approximately one-third the size and one-fourth the weight of normal tractors and spray rigs and capable of pulling implements as well as late-season spraying.
  • Rantizo is developing an electrostatic spraying system for targeted drone-based spraying.
  • Skycision rapidly identifies field stress through the analysis of aerial imagery.
  • Stable’N is a nitrification inhibitor process that utilizes electricity delivered into the soil by a retrofit to existing fertilizer application equipment.
  • SwineTech has developed a farrowing safety device to protect the health of piglets.

During two investment pitch sessions, entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to a panel of farmers, investors, and agribusiness professionals representing the following organizations:

  • Growing Acres Farm
  • Indigo Ag
  • Innova Ag Innovation Fund IV
  • Mid-South Family Farms 
  • National Black Growers Council 
  • Ritter Agribusiness 
  • TechStars
  • YieldLab

About AgLaunch™
AgLaunch attracts, creates, and grows agtech startups, facilitates the development of new agriculture and food value-chains, and builds collaborative farmer networks in the Mid-South, with a commitment to intentional inclusion. AgLaunch is a joint initiative of Memphis Bioworks Foundation (www.memphisbioworks.org) and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (www.tn.gov/agriculture). AgLaunch365 is a farm-centric innovation platform for agriculture designed to calibrate support with the specific needs of agtech startups and the agricultural industry. AgLaunch365 is made possible through partnerships with Start Co., Tennessee Farm Bureau, Epicenter, Farm Journal Media, Archer Malmo, and Baker Donelson. 

Learn more: www.aglaunch.com.

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Twelve Groundbreaking AgTech Startups Selected to Pitch at AgLaunch Startup Station

Companies will pitch to a panel of farmers and investors, including Innova Memphis, a $31 million fund seeking to invest in agriculture’s next big innovation

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (February 20, 2018) —

AgLaunch is bringing its Startup Station pitch event back to the Mid-South Farm and Gin Show for a second time on Friday, March 2, 2018. This event will host some of AgLaunch’s most innovative agtech entrepreneurs from across the country to showcase how their ideas will shape the future of food and agriculture.

Agtech entrepreneurs are addressing on-farm issues with real-world solutions like irrigation management, farm-level efficiencies, and autonomous equipment. The Startup Station will highlight more than a dozen companies that will receive feedback from an expert panel that includes farmers, investors, and industry experts. This event serves as the culmination of Phase II of the AgLaunch365 programming, a farm-centric model that supports agtech companies by connecting to them farmers early in their development process.

Current AgLaunch365 Cohort:

  • EarthSense is developing ultra-compact autonomous robots that use machine-learning to monitor and manage problems in agriculture, specifically to identify weeds and chemical-free methods of reliably eradicating superweeds.
  • Rabbit Tractors is building swarm-enabled, autonomous tractors that are approximately one-third the size and one-fourth the weight of normal tractors and spray rigs and capable of pulling implements as well as late-season spraying.
  • Rantizo is developing an electrostatic spraying system for targeted drone-based spraying.

AgLaunch Alumni Teams:

  • Kilimo provides a decision-support tool for irrigation management in agriculture by using satellite, climate, and on-site data.
  • Microbiometer is a quick test used to estimate the microbial biomass in soil in 10 minutes for 10 percent of the cost of a lab test.
  • Persistence Data Mining is developing a non-intrusive remote hyper-spectral soil analysis to service large tracks of open farmland.
  • Skycision rapidly identifies field stress through the analysis of aerial imagery.

Additional participating teams being evaluated for investment or participating in AgLaunch365 Phase III Farmer Network Field Trials and growth-track programming:

  • AgHelp is an app and wrap-around services helping ag workers find jobs and resources.
  • AgriSync is a communication platform connecting farmers with trusted experts.
  • Global AgSmarte has developed SmarteRoot, an irrigation add-on that increases absorption of water and nutrients for crops to increase yields.
  • Harvest Yield is an electronic record-keeping system to ensure accurate invoicing for custom harvesters.
  • Stable’N is a nitrification inhibitor process that utilizes electricity delivered into the soil by a retrofit to existing fertilizer application equipment.
  • SwineTech has developed a farrowing safety device to protect the health of piglets.

During two investment pitch sessions, entrepreneurs will be given 8 minutes to pitch their ideas and 7 minutes to answer questions from a panel of farmers, investors, and agribusiness professionals who will provide feedback to refine these products and prepare the companies for follow-on investment and 2018 farm-scale trials. Participating panelists represent the following organizations:

  • Growing Acres Farm
  • Indigo Ag
  • Innova Ag Innovation Fund IV
  • Mid-South Family Farms
  • National Black Growers Council
  • Ritter Agribusiness
  • TechStars

Teams that perform well will have the opportunity for follow-on investment from Innova Memphis and participation in 2018 farm-scale field trials with the AgLaunch Farmer Network.

The AgLaunch Startup Station will be open at the Chickasaw Room on the Mezzanine Level at Booth #4027 for anyone wishing to engage with the startup companies or to learn more about AgLaunch from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. The investment pitch sessions will be held from 10:30 am-12:00 pm and from 1:30 pm until 3:00 pm.

The Mid-South Farm and Gin Show hosts more than 400 exhibitors and 20,000 farmers every year. You can learn more about the Farm and Gin Show at their website https://www.farmandginshow.com.

AgLaunch Startup Station
Friday, March 2, 2018
9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Cook Convention Center, Chickasaw Room, Booth #4027
255 N Main St, Memphis, TN
Investment Pitch Session #1: 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Investment Pitch Session #2: 1:30 p.m.- 3:00 p.m.
Free Registration Here

About AgLaunch™ 

AgLaunch attracts, creates, and grows agtech startups, facilitates the development of new agriculture and food value-chains, and builds collaborative farmer networks in the Mid-South, with a commitment to intentional inclusion. AgLaunch is a joint initiative of Memphis Bioworks Foundation (www.memphisbioworks.org) and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (www.tn.gov/agriculture). AgLaunch365 is a farm-centric innovation platform for agriculture designed to calibrate support with the specific needs of agtech startups and the agricultural industry. AgLaunch365 is made possible through partnerships with Start Co., Tennessee Farm Bureau, Epicenter, Farm Journal Media, Archer Malmo, and Baker Donelson. 

Learn more: www.aglaunch.com

AgLaunch Entrepreneurs Showcased at Farm Journal AgTech Expo

Seven AgTech Teams exhibit and demonstrate their technologies at inaugural expo

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (December 12, 2017) — As part of the unique partnership with Farm Journal Media, AgLaunch and seven of the agtech teams that it supports are participating in the inaugural Farm Journal AgTech Expo. Farm Journal AgTech Expo provides insights and information from key experts so farmers can harness the power of AgTech.

“AgTech startups provide valuable innovations for our industry as farmers are looking for tools to make them more efficient, more environmentally sustainable and more profitable,” said Margy Eckelkamp, Editor of AgPro and Director of Content Development at Machinery Pete.

The expo is the culminating event for the agtech teams completing Phase I of AgLaunch365 and exploring participation in Phase II, where teams will continue customer discovery and build out field trials for the spring. Four of the teams- DryMAX, Earth Sense, Rabbit Tractors, and Rantizo- will be showcasing their companies on Wednesday, December 13, 2017 at 7:45 am in the Expo Hall to a panel of farmers and the general public.

“The key component of AgLaunch365 is connecting early-stage agtech companies with farmers to help inform product development and become engaged in the scale up of the company,” said Pete Nelson, President & Executive Director of AgLaunch. “Our partnership with Farm Journal Media is helping our teams get connected with leading farmers, while providing content on the innovation pipeline to its readers and listeners.”

AgLaunch365 teams participating are:

  • DryMAX, based in Minnesota, is commercializing a low-energy, low-heat radio wave process for drying grain that keeps grain integrity and maximizes nutrition delivery. (www.drymaxsolutions.com).
  • EarthSense, based in Illinois, has developed TerraSentia, an ultra-compact, autonomous, easy-to-use robot with multiple sensors and embedded data collection and analytics software for plant phenotyping. They are working with the seed industry and crop R&D partners to test and optimize TerraSentia. (www.earthsense.co).
  • Rabbit Tractors, based in Indiana, is developing an autonomous, mobile, multi-purposed, swarm-capable and high-ground clearance farm-production tractor for all pre-harvest activities. (www.rabbittractors.com).

Additional AgLaunch-supported teams participating are:

  • HarvestYield, based in New York, is a fleet management application for custom farmers. (www.harvestyield.com).
  • Rantizo, based in Iowa, delivers targeted liquid sprays precisely where they are needed in agricultural applications through an electrosprayer mounted on a drone, delivering minimal amounts of active agent directly to the targeted area. (www.rantizo.com).
  • Global Ag Smarte Technologies, based in Tennessee, has developed the SmarteRoot technology which increases absorption of water and nutrients to increase plant health and produce greater yield. (www.globalagsmarte.com).
  • Stable’N, based in Illinois, is a nitrification inhibitor process that utilizes electricity delivered into the soil by a retrofit to existing fertilizer application equipment. (www.stablen.com).

AgLaunch continues to expand its farm-centric innovation platform to accelerate the process of bringing new ideas into agriculture and partnering with Farm Journal Media has allowed AgLaunch and its companies to expand its reach and collaborate with other innovators in the industry.

Applications for AgLaunch365 Phase II are open now at aglaunch.com. For more information, contact Rebecca Kaufman at rkaufman@aglaunch.com.

 

About Farm Journal Media 

Farm Journal Media is the nation’s leading business information and media company serving the agricultural market. Started 140 years ago with the preeminent Farm Journal magazine, the company serves the row crop, livestock, produce and retail sectors through 26 branded websites, eNewsletters and phone apps; 11 business magazines; 70 events; six nationally broadcasted television and radio programs; a robust mobile text marketing business; and an array of data-driven paid information products. Farm Journal Media also is the majority shareholder of the online equipment marketplace Machinery Pete, LLC. In 2010, the Company established the non-profit, public charity Farm Journal Foundation, which is dedicated to sustaining agriculture’s ability to meet the vital needs of a growing population through education and empowerment.

Learn more: www.farmjournalmedia.com

 

About AgLaunch™ 

AgLaunch attracts, creates, and grows agtech startups, facilitates the development of new agriculture and food value-chains, and builds collaborative farmer networks in the Mid-South, with a commitment to intentional inclusion. AgLaunch is a joint initiative of Memphis Bioworks Foundation (www.memphisbioworks.org) and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (www.tn.gov/agriculture). AgLaunch365 is a farm-centric innovation platform for agriculture designed to calibrate support with the specific needs of agtech startups and the agricultural industry. AgLaunch365 is made possible through partnerships with Start Co., Farm Journal Media, Archer Malmo, and Baker Donelson.

Learn more: www.aglaunch.com

AgLaunch365 Announces New Startups In Farm-Centric Platform

Three Teams in Phase I of AgLaunch365 Will Focus on Customer Discovery and Business Model Development; Phase II Applications Due November 15

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AgPR) Nov. 2, 2017 — AgLaunch365 has accepted three new agtech startups into Phase I of its farm-centric innovation platform. AgLaunch365 provides startups with the tools needed to integrate with farmers to create and implement sophisticated field trial protocols and prepare for funding by aligned capital sources. Phase I teams will receive intensive business development support and customer discovery assistance. Teams will have access to leading accelerator programming, the AgLaunch Farmer Network, the Cultivator Mentor Network, and to AgLaunch’s partnership with Farm Journal Media, among a range of other services.

This 6-week program will be delivered through remote programming and in-person sessions held in Memphis. It will culminate at the Farm Journal AgTech Expo in Indianapolis December 11-13, 2017 (www.farmjournalagtechexpo.com).

“We are excited to support these three innovative teams who are committed to solving problems for the agriculture industry,” said Pete Nelson, President and Executive Director of AgLaunch. “Following the Phase I business development and customer discovery, these entrepreneurs will be better prepared to launch their products in the field with our extensive group of farmers during 2018.”

Phase I teams are:

  • DryMAX, based in Minnesota, is commercializing a low-energy, low-heat radio wave process for drying grain that keeps grain integrity and maximizes nutrition delivery. (www.drymaxsolutions.com).
  • EarthSense, based in Illinois, has developed TerraSentia, an ultra-compact, autonomous, easy-to-use robot with multiple sensors and embedded data collection and analytics software for plant phenotyping. They are working with the seed industry and crop R&D partners to test and optimize TerraSentia. (www.earthsense.co).
  • Rabbit Tractors, based in Indiana, is developing an autonomous, mobile, multi-purposed, swarm-capable and high-ground clearance farm-production tractor for all pre-harvest activities. (www.rabbittractors.com).

“Tennessee and the surrounding Mid-South region is becoming known as a leader for field testing and trialing new technologies and innovations in agriculture,” said, Commissioner Jai Templeton, Tennessee Department of Agriculture. “We are pleased to be able to facilitate that process to grow the overall agtech sector.”

AgLaunch365 teams are eligible for investment from a key AgLaunch partner, Innova and its USDA-certified Rural Business Investment Company fund, a $31 million fund backed by eight Farm Credit banks.

AgLaunch is a joint initiative of Memphis Bioworks Foundation and Tennessee Department of Agriculture. Innova was founded by Memphis Bioworks Foundation.

AgLaunch365 focuses on helping entrepreneurs find success by providing agriculture expertise, incubator resources, and a strong global ag specific network. Paired with the natural resources of Tennessee and the surrounding Mid-South region, AgLaunch365 has the power to help launch startups into successful businesses.

AgLaunch365 consists of three phases of support that closely align with a typical growing season. In Phase I, teams develop their business models and gain access to the Cultivator Mentor Network from October through December. Phase II participants begin in January and refine their product or technology to be “field ready” for on-farm trials with AgLaunch365’s Farmer Network beginning in the spring. Phase III teams work directly with growers in the region to test their innovation in the field during the growing seasons.

Applications to participate in Phase II can be found here: www.aglaunch.com/aglaunch-365.
Deadline for Phase II is November 15, 2017.

About AgLaunch™
AgLaunch attracts, creates, and grows agtech startups, facilitates the development of new agriculture and food value-chains, and builds collaborative farmer networks in the Mid-South, with a commitment to intentional inclusion.AgLaunch is a joint initiative of Memphis Bioworks Foundation (www.memphisbioworks.org) and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture (www.tn.gov/agriculture). AgLaunch365 is a farm-centric innovation platform for agriculture designed to calibrate support with the specific needs of agtech startups and the agricultural industry. AgLaunch365 is made possible through partnerships with Start Co., Farm Journal Media, Archer Malmo and Baker Donelson. www.aglaunch.com

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Media Release Contact:
Margaret Oldham
901-351-2904
moldham@aglaunch.com