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Entrepreneurs Needed to Rise to the Challenge

The Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge is a national business competition that showcases U.S. startups developing innovative solutions that address challenges facing America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities. Launched in 2015, The Challenge was the first national business competition of its kind focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs.

Now in their ninth year, the American Farm Bureau Federation in partnership with Farm Credit, are looking to identify the top entrepreneurs who are addressing both traditional challenges farmers face on their operation, such as access to labor, optimizing yield and reducing operating costs, to entrepreneurs who are addressing new challenges facing farmers and rural communities.

Farm Bureau will award $165,000 in startup funds to ten businesses, culminating at a live pitch competition and networking event at the AFBF Convention in January 2023 in San Juan, PR. The Ag Innovation Challenge Winner will be awarded $50,000 in startup funds provided by sponsors Farm Credit, Bayer Crop Science, John DeereFarm Bureau Bank and Microsoft.

The future of agriculture will rely on innovative solutions to the challenges we face. The Ag Innovation Challenge helps entrepreneurs grow their ideas into products that support farmers and ranchers in their mission to provide the food, fuel and fiber we all rely on.
—  AFBF President Zippy Duvall


Farm Bureau will award $165,000 to ten businesses:

  • $50,000 will be awarded to the 2023 Ag Innovation Challenge Winner
  • $20,000 will be awarded to the 2023 Ag Innovation Challenge Runner-Up
  • $15,000 will be awarded to two finalist teams
  • $10,000 will be awarded to six semi-finalist teams
  • Additional $5,000 to the People's Choice Team (chosen by public vote; all ten teams are eligible)


May 13, 2022 at 11:59 pm Eastern

2023 Ag Innovation Challenge Application Closes

Sept. 13, 2022 at 12 pm Eastern

Top Ten Semi-Finalists Announced

Fall 2022

Top Ten Semi-Finalist Training from Cornell University's SC Johnson College of Business

Jan. 6-9, 2023

Ag Innovation Challenge Competition at 2023 AFBF Convention


Ten startup businesses, selected by Farm Bureau and the Farm Credit Rural Investment and Innovation Workgroup, will compete at the AFBF Convention in January 2023 as semi-finalists. These ten businesses will be awarded $10,000 each.

The ten semi-finalist teams will compete at the AFBF Convention on Friday, Jan. 6, to advance to the final round where the four finalist teams will receive an additional $5,000 for a total of $15,000. The final four teams will compete live in front of Farm Bureau members, investors and industry representatives to win:

  • Ag Innovation Challenge Winner, for a total of $50,000
  • Ag Innovation Challenge Runner-Up, for a total of $20,000
  • People’s Choice Team, for an additional $5,000

The top ten semi-finalist teams will participate in pitch training and mentorship from Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business faculty, and network with representatives from the Agriculture Department’s Rural Business Investment Companies.

Winning the Ag Innovation Challenge has made for an exciting start to our year. The connections and opportunities that have come from participating in this event continue to prove extremely valuable to our development.
—  Chad Johnson, Co-Founder of Grain Weevil

Meet the 2022 Challenge Top Ten Entrepreneurs 

Ag Innovation Challenge Winner

Grain Weevil Corporation 
Team lead: Chad Johnson
Nebraska Farm Bureau member
Website | FacebookTwitterLinkedIn

The Grain Weevil is a grain bin safety and management robot that directly engages the surface of the grain by leveling, breaking crusts and conducting inspections. The robot impacts the quality of stored grain and improves farmer well-being by controlling risks, controlling costs, and most importantly, removing the farmer from the bin.

Ag Innovation Challenge Runner-Up

Birds Eye Robotics
Team lead: Scott Niewohner
Nebraska Farm Bureau member
Website | LinkedIn

Birds Eye Robotics has developed an autonomous robot, Birds Eye, that removes bird mortality, tills up caked bedding and improves overall animal welfare by stimulating bird movement for the poultry industry.

Ag Innovation Challenge Finalists

Marble Technologies
Team lead: Britany Wondercheck
Nebraska Farm Bureau member
Website | Twitter | LinkedIn

Marble Technologies has developed robotic solutions that reduce the labor needs of beef and pork processing facilities to improve workplace safety by conducting tasks with a history of worker injury. Marble Technologies uses the latest advances in computer vision, artificial intelligence, and sensing technology to automate tasks in meat processing, beginning with the task of packing vacuum-sealed meat into boxes.

Team lead: Leighton Rice
Pennsylvania Farm Bureau member

StemPunk is the world's first hands-free, dual-dexterous, apple stem-clipping device to reduce stem punctures. The unique, patented design adds a large measure of efficiency to the process of harvesting high-value, fresh apple varieties.

Ag Innovation Challenge People’s Choice Team

Caravan Tech LLC
Team lead: Richy Naisbett
Alabama Farm Bureau member
Website | Instagram | LinkedIn

Caravan Tech is an innovative company that has developed a tool for the real time tracing of livestock and a multitude of other farm management applications. Caravan Tech’s three flagship products working in unison are the Smart Ear Tags, intraruminal bolus and Caravan Chat system.

Ag Innovation Challenge Semi-Finalists

Team lead: Michael Lynch
Alabama Farm Bureau member

CHONEX is a soil health company that has developed a biological, proprietary process for upcycling poultry manure into a concentrated microbial bio-stimulant used to improve soil health by increasing soil microbes.

Team lead: Daryl Staveness
West Virginia Farm Bureau member
Website | LinkedIn

ExciPlex is an agtech startup developing a novel diagnostic technology for the on-site detection of mycotoxins in animal feed and feed inputs. This technology is designed to operate at every level of the feed production chain, thus a single core invention will deliver solutions to multiple different customer bases.

NEK Supply
Team lead: Blake Chance
Kansas Farm Bureau member
Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

NEK Supply has developed the Quick-Pin design that allows tractors to be quickly, easily and safely unhooked from an implement, especially in cases of emergency. By removing the Quick Pin’s top shaft, hopping in the tractor and releasing the pressure, the main shaft will fall out allowing the tractor to become quickly and easily unhooked from the implement.

Propagate Ventures
Team lead: Ethan Steinberg
New York Farm Bureau member
Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn

Propagate Ventures has developed an agroforestry platform that makes it easy for farmers and ranchers to access the operational know-how, implementation tools, financing and off-take agreements needed to reduce business risks while integrating fruit, nut and timber trees with animal or crop farming systems.

Vulpes Agricultural Corp.
Team lead: Rick Shang
Missouri Farm Bureau member

Vulpes Agricultural Corp. is a manufacturing startup that has developed Carbon Black Acid, a fertilizer additive, through their accelerated R&D process. Vulpes’ flagship product, Carbon Black Acid, not only turns agricultural waste such as corn cob, sawdust, sugarcane bagasse into carbon sources that the soil and crops can use, but also modifies the carbon sources into carriers of nutrients and water. When crops take in the carbon sources, they simultaneously take in the additional dose of nutrients and water.

Terms and Conditions

Entrepreneurs must be Farm Bureau members to qualify as a top ten semi-finalist. Applicants who are not Farm Bureau members can join a state Farm Bureau of their choice. Visit to learn about becoming a member.

Partnering with Farm Credit to Support Rural Entrepreneurship 

Farm Credit supports rural communities and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services, today and tomorrow. Our nationwide network of customer-owned financial institutions provides loans and related financial services to U.S. farmers and ranchers, farmer-owned cooperatives, rural homebuyers, agribusinesses and rural infrastructure providers.

Providing much-needed capital to Rural Business Investment Companies (RBICs) and other rural entities, mentoring rural entrepreneurs and fostering innovation in rural America are other ways Farm Credit fulfills its mission to support vibrant rural communities. That is why Farm Credit is pleased to be the American Farm Bureau Federation’s premier partner on the Ag Innovation Challenge.

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