Innovators go Head to Head
The Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge is a national business competition for U.S. food and agriculture startups. The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, awards $145,000 in startup funds to entrepreneurs who compete throughout the year, culminating at a live pitch competition at the AFBF Annual Convention.
Launched in 2015, the Challenge was the first national competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs, the competition continues to provide an opportunity for U.S. startups to showcase business innovations in food and agriculture. Startup funds for The Challenge are provided by sponsors Bayer Crop Science, Country Financial, Farm Bureau Bank, Farm Bureau Financial Services, Farm Credit and John Deere.
Ten semi-finalist teams were announced on Nov. 25 and awarded $10,000 each. All ten semi-finalist teams will travel to AFBF’s Annual Convention, in Austin, Texas, in January 2020, with all expenses paid, to compete in a live competition to be the Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year. The ten teams will compete in Austin to advance to the final round where four teams will receive an additional $5,000 and compete live on stage in front of Farm Bureau members, investors and industry representatives. The final four teams will compete to win:
- Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year award and $15,000 (chosen by judges), for a total of $30,000
- People’s Choice award and $10,000 (chosen by public vote), for a total of $25,000
- Top ten semi-finalist teams will have the opportunity to participate in pitch training provided by Cornell University.
- This will include a 90-minute webinar where the 10 finalists will receive general training on effective pitching, as well as specific details for the pitch competition at the AFBF annual convention.
- Each finalist will also have the opportunity to practice their pitch individually via video conference with experts from Cornell University, assuring each team puts its best foot forward at the competition.
- Top ten semi-finalist teams will compete in 20-minute pitch sessions in front of a panel of industry judges on Friday, January 17th to advance to the Final Four.
- Semi-finalist teams will be invited to attend the Farm Bureau Ag Innovators Reception at the AFBF Annual Convention to network with sponsor companies and affiliated investors.
- Final Four teams will compete live on the Cultivation Center Stage on Sunday, January 19th for Entrepreneur of the Year.
- The Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year and the People’s Choice Award winner will be announced at the AFBF Annual Convention Closing General Session on Monday, January 20th.
Meet the Top Ten Semi-Finalist Teams
AgButler is a gig economy platform that serves as a solution to a rural labor shortage in America. We provide on-demand jobs giving farmers and ranchers access to a high-quality labor force while boosting rural economies. AgButler enables agriculture productivity, one click at a time. Watch their video pitch.
Green State Biochar
Team Lead: Donna Pion
Vermont Farm Bureau member
We hold a provisional patent on an innovative and novel Soil Conditioner Injection System (SCIS) with application rates of 20+ gallons per each 8-second cycle at depths of 1"-6" and which substantially seals manure, fertilizer, and/or biochar into a found recess. Watch their video pitch.
Hivelend is an online platform that connects beekeepers and farmers for sustainable pollination. By connecting these sideliners to pollination contracts, we are supporting them financially and enabling them to better care for their hives, and by connecting the smaller farmers to pollination contracts we are enabling increased crop yields through supplemental pollination. By working on a local scale, we are decreasing the stress on bees, the movement of disease and the risk of pesticide exposure. By ensuring farmers and beekeepers are supported with healthier crop yields, Hivelend is helping to feed the future. Watch their video pitch.
Most farmers don't want to spend time moving and maintaining irrigation lines. That's why we invented HydroSide. Our system automates your wheel lines and hose reels so your crops get the right water at the right time. Take back your time and let HydroSide help you run your farm even smoother. Watch their video pitch.
Innovative Agricultural Technologies, LLC
Team Lead: Matthew Parker
North Carolina Farm Bureau member
Baling pine straw for landscaping use is a $250+ million industry across the southeast, relying almost entirely on hand labor. IAT, LLC has designed and built the first-ever production-level machine to remove sticks and pine cones from pine straw and cut labor costs by up to 80%: the Pine Bine! Watch their video pitch.
Rantizo is developing an integrated drone-based platform for the identification of in-field anomalies and targeted aerial application of agricultural products via our electrostatic spray technology on board unmanned aerial vehicles. This allows for lower volume chemical delivery, safer chemical handling, and more precise treatment, allowing for yield-enhancing applications to occur which would have previously been uneconomical to farmers. Our revolutionary spray techniques will address customer pain in the form of reduced labor and capital expenditure, increase crop yields through reduced crop destruction and soil compaction, and diminished environmental damage from chemical over-application and spray drift. Watch their video pitch.
Re-Nuble uniquely transforms unrecoverable produce waste into plant-based technologies for both soil-based and hydroponic cultivation. Its core technology (a patent-pending device and trade secretly formulated fertilizer pellet) enables hydroponic farming to affordably yield fully organic produce, where the only organic alternative is up to 69% more expensive. At the same time, we offer a value-add to food waste generators as well by locating near their facilities, reducing their hauling costs. Watch their video pitch.
Team Lead: B.J. Brugman
Iowa Farm Bureau member
Inaccurate daily animal inventory counts create a host of problems for swine producers. The impact of inaccurate inventory is felt throughout the pork supply chain from the individual caregiver to the scheduler at the harvest facility. SwineSentinel combines AI and computer vision to accurately track animal inventory in real-time and connects this key information to the production team.
The Bene Baby Company, Inc.
Team Lead: Nikos Linardakis
Wisconsin Farm Bureau member
The Bêne Baby Company is located in central Wisconsin, and has created the first-of-its-kind, patent-pending, human infant formula, breast milk equivalent, made from goat’s milk and healthy nutrient ingredients. "Bêne delivers Bênefits!" The formula was designed for standard, term infants as a hypoallergenic baby formula powder mix. This ideal mother’s milk alternative was physician-formulated and has the closest composition to human breast milk. Watch their video pitch.
We help people find and value heavy equipment. We’re like AutoTrader and Kelly Blue Book, but for heavy equipment. Our data helps banks make financing decisions, dealers make smart deals, insurance companies with underwriting and claims pricing, as well as farmers make educated buying and selling decisions. Watch their video pitch.
Nov. 25, 2019
Top Ten Semifinalists Announced
Semi-Finalist Pitch Training
Jan. 17-20, 2020
Top Ten Compete at AFBF Annual Convention
Jan. 20, 2020
Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year & People's Choice Award Winners Annouced
Watch the 2019 Challenge
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 fb.org/join to learn about becoming a member.
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