Future Farmer COMPLIMENTARY
Why Plug And Play Matters
Grand Farm Recap
Emerging Prairie Summer Recap
Mental Health Spotlight
M E E T
N E W
S TU AP RS T
...AND HOW PLUG AND PLAY IS REVOLUTIONIZING AGRICULTURE IN OUR REGION.
CONTENTS Editor's Note ...................................... 10 Sponsored Content: LG Seeds .... 12
MEET PLUG AND PLAY
GRAND FARM: 2020 PROJECT RECAP
GRAND FARM: 2020 SUMMER PROGRAM RECAP
DR. JON ULVEN: IMPORTANCE OF MENTAL HEALTH ON THE FARM
MEET 13 NEW PLUG AND PLAY STARTUPS 24 AGTOOLS INC 27 EAGRONOM 28 SHEPHERD FARMING 32 SPACESENSE 34 INSIGHT SENSING 37 PRO POWER AG 40 EARTHSENSE, INC. 42 PROVENDER TECHNOLOGIES, LLC 45 FARMQA 49 SPORNADO 52 MYCONOURISH LIMITED 56 SMALL ROBOT COMPANY 59 FARM DOG
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WHY GROWERS SHOULD CARE ABOUT PLUG AND PLAY'S PRESENCE IN ND
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November/December 2020 Volume 1 Issue 6
Future Farmer Future Farmer is published 6 times a year and is direct mailed to farmers throughout North Dakota and Minnesota. Find us online at Futurefarmermag.com.
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Reflecting On Year One
his issue will mark our sixth
subjects. However, taking a chance
be a farmer in rural North Dakota or
edition of Future Farmer of
on us as a new magazine was a risk.
a tech enthusiast in Minnesota, this
2020. It will also mark the
We thank you so much for placing
magazine is for you and you only.
end of our printing cycle for the year.
your trust in us to get your message
Thank you for reading.
When we published our first edition
out. It is our hope to continue to grow
almost a year ago, we had little idea
alongside you in 2021.
what exactly we were getting into.
From here, we look to 2021 where we hope to have more exciting
While 2020 was challenging for all of
The partnerships we've fostered on
opportunities for clients and story
us and their were plenty of hardships
the editorial side are not lost on us
subjects. In hopes that the world will
in putting together each issue of
either. Our cohesive relationship with
return to normal, Future Farmer is
Future Farmer, there is also plenty to
Emerging Prairie and the Grand Farm
excited about its continued growth
be proud of.
initiative is potentially the most vital
throughout the Midwest.
relationship we have from an editorial We have been able to cultivate new
standpoint. They have continued to
With that growth is an exciting
relationships with growers, farmers
help guide us to new and exciting
opportunity. We plan to hire an
and clients within the ag sphere.
stories that readers enjoy and find
Agriculture Multimedia Sales Leader
This was done in a time where new
engaging. I don't think we can offer
in the new year. This position
relationships came at a premium due
forth enough thanks to Emerging
will help lead the sales efforts
to COVID-19. Knowing that our new
Prairie for that assistance in creating
behind Spotlight's expanding
clients deserve the utmost thanks
the publication these last six months.
agriculture portfolio. On top of
from our team at Spotlight.
Future Farmer, Spotlight provides Finally, thank you to our readers.
services for agribusinesses in the
A new publication is just that, a new
While it sounds silly, you are
region that include: drone photo/
venture for us as a company and
the reason we are still running
video, web development, digital
a new opportunity for clients and
magazines. The reader, whether it
marketing, branding, recruiting, sales
enablement, advertising and more. This individual will lead the sales efforts in helping capture advertisers for this publication and the variety of agribusiness solutions we offer. Interested? Or maybe you know of someone who would be interested? Visit spotlightmediafargo.com/careers for more information. Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for a great 2020. Now, on to 2021!
The Editorial Team
FROM THE FIELD
brought to you by LG Seeds Because your business is more than a farm, LG Seeds is dedicated to being more than a seed company. In a unique approach to the industry, LG Seeds works intimately with a network of regional STAR Partner dealers. By bringing about this team approach, they are able to serve farmers with their leading genetics but also “feet on the ground” expertise. It’s not enough to provide farmers with leading-edge research and genetic hybrids, the LG Seeds team is dedicated to personalized results. To achieve this, the company enlists STAR Partner dealers. These STAR Partners work closely with the sales team and agronomists, receiving marketing and business support to aid their regional clients. STAR Partners are equipped with the resources to maximize success for farmers. Including a strong agronomic expertise, in-field support, digital ag platforms and regular training on the latest genetics and technologies. To better understand what LG Seeds provides and how STAR Partners operate, we spoke with two STAR Partners, Bill Daluge and Tracey Domine. These two North Dakota and Minnesota LG Seeds STAR Partners shared what makes them feel like valuable parts of the company’s mission and why they do what they do.
WE MEAN BUSINESS. LG SEEDS 1122 E 169th St Westfield, IN 46074
Brought to you by LG SEEDS
Bill Daluge STAR Partner, Buffalo, MN
ill Daluge is a third-generation farmer just west of Minneapolis. His passion for farming was ignited when he was given his first opportunity to farm at age 15. Together with his father, Daluge ran the cattle operation, and he never looked back. He eventually took over his father's operation and began pursuing agricultural farming. Although he has mostly veered away from cattle farming, Daluge is still going strong with the seed business, proudly farming over 2500 acres of land. It takes only a few moments before realizing Daluge is passionate about what he does; the enthusiasm in his voice shows a sense of dedication to agriculture and farming. When it comes to job satisfaction, however, it's not just about growing crops, but also planting seeds of friendship and trust with the people he serves. "I feel like when I go to them and I can speak from the heart about
a product because I've used it and I've had success," he said. When it comes to business, Daluge views it as so much more than a transaction. "Sales really isn't a job at that pointâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;it's a good conversation...I [can] walk away feeling good about that," Daluge said. When talking about achieving a successful business, Daluge believes community plays a large role, and that's why he loves LG Seeds to help deliver both quality and trust. When it comes to LG Seeds, Bill credits the quality and vision of their product to giving his business an edge on the competition: "I'm impressed with their research," says Daluge. "To see that our quality has met 'great' every time; We haven't had any issues. Whereas with some competitors, I know I've had to return some seed and try several times to get a good upgrade to make that customer's cut. And I never had that concern [with LG Seeds]."
Implementing transparency is essential to the success of any business, and for Daluge, it's especially valuable."Being very transparent seems to be the thing that helps me the most. It's just that simple," says Daluge. "What really works for me is sharing my own data with customers. I'm not afraid to pull up my iPad in front of a customer and I do some side by sides of competing hybrids." For Daluge, it doesn't stop there. He is invested in giving farmers products with the highest standards. Daluge has given some seed for farmers to try; he knows once they test it and see the quality, they'll never go back.
Brought to you by LG SEEDS
Technical Team Agronomist
Area Agronomy Manager
Product & Agronomy Services Manager
Dealer Development Lead Customer Care Specialist
Team 28 Bill Daluge’s Team
Sales Account Manager Team
Area Sales Manager
Teaming Up For Success Every LG Seeds STAR Partner dealer has a team of experts backing them up. Whether its agronomy support, marketing ideas or business advice, the LG Seeds team exists to support the business success of STAR Partners - who stand at the center of the team. Bottom line - it’s all about helping growers yield bigger, better results.
Mitch Fabel – Sales Account Manager Thomas Schmitt – Sales Account Manager Trevor Hamre – Sales Account Manager Justin Krell – Technical Team Agronomist Amanda Buchanan – Customer Care Specialist Michelle Frost – Marketing Coordinator
Tracey Domine STAR Partner, Domine Sales & Service Oakes, ND
n Tracey Domine's case, farming is not a first-generation vision. He's a third-generation farmer, and his son is also carrying on both the business and farming legacy. The seed business began in 1988 for Domine. "I had no idea what I was getting myself into at the time," Domine said. It's been 32 years in the seed operation for Domine, but it wasn't all sunshine and roses from the beginning. "I struggled through the first few years, but I didn't give up. Thick skin," Domine said with a chuckle. Domine knows that the farming industry has ups and downs; factors like Mother Nature can force you to address problems in a unique way. Sustaining a business over time goes far beyond just the salesmanship. For Domine, in order to be "in it for the long run", it's truly
about meeting the needs of those around him. "You're working with your community, neighbors and friends," says Domine. "You want to keep them happy." Domine credits honesty and backing up your product as the key to agricultural success, and believes that's what makes LG Seeds stand out above the rest. "They're on the cutting edge of genetics," says Domine. When it comes to quality vs quantity, Domine believes that with LG Seeds, you don't have to choose: "What I get to work with [LG Seeds] it has been excellent... they do a whale of a job." He also believes honesty in the salemanship realm plays a large role in community trust, and is one of the key elements that drives dealership success. "You have to build that trust," Domine said. "As best as you can, back up what you say."
For Domine, it's not just being concerned about the present year, but also having a vision to continue providing great service and quality seed for years to come.
Brought to you by LG SEEDS
Technical Team Agronomist
Area Agronomy Manager
Product & Agronomy Services Manager
Dealer Development Lead Customer Care Specialist
Sales Account Manager Team
Area Sales Manager
Teaming Up For Success Every LG Seeds STAR Partner dealer has a team of experts backing them up. Whether its agronomy support, marketing ideas or business advice, the LG Seeds team exists to support the business success of STAR Partners - who stand at the center of the team. Bottom line - itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all about helping growers yield bigger, better results.
Team 26 Tracey Domineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Team Tony Loftness - Area Sales Manager Brady Schmaltz - Sales Account Manager Brandon Domagala - Sales Account Manager Cody Benson - Sales Account Manager Michelle Frost - Marketing Coordinator Sherie Doering - Customer Care Specialist
M E E T Plug And Play
is a name that has become commonplace in North Dakota. The Silicon Valley-based company has found a second home right here in the heartland. Through investing and helping start-ups, Plug And Play is helping to build a world-class agtech ecosystem. The hub of this ecosystem? North Dakota. Meet 13 new Plug And Play startups and how they plan to innovate and revolutionize agriculture. Also, learn why Plug And Play is so vital to the future of our region. 18
P L U G
A N D
By Andrew Jason, Emerging Prairie
P L A Y
Why Should Growers Care About Grand Farm Working with Plug and Play By Brady Drake
Director Of Grand Farm Felipe Gonzalez
Plug and Play Director of North Dakota Agtech
Plug and Play
the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest accelerator based in Silicon Valley, added a new agtech location in Fargo this year in a partnership with Grand Farm to push innovation forward. Plug and Play is an early investor and accelerator for startups. The magic happens when Plug and Play enters a vertical and helps corporate partners solve pain points and drive innovation by connecting them with startups. Plug and Play,
Plug and Play currently has 13 startups they are bringing to the area as part of their efforts with Grand Farm. The 13 companies were whittled down from a list of thousands and refined through a Shark Tank-like event before finally being confirmed as part of the cohort. To learn more about the partnership, we sat down with the Director of Grand Farm, Brian Carroll, and Plug and Playâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Director of North Dakota Agtech, Felipe Gonzalez.
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How are Plug and Play and
Grand Farm collaborating? Brian:
Plug and Play and the Grand Farm are connected in two specific areas. The first connection is in ecosystem development. At Grand Farm, we have strong regional connections, but Plug and Play will be able to connect us over time on a national and global level. We're having engagements now with companies in Australia, Brazil, Canada and elsewhere. The other main area that we have is the innovation platform. We identified with Grand Farm that innovation will be central to a lot of the work that we want to do. This is our opportunity to work with large organizations, companies, startups and researchers and do it in a collaborative way. Felipe:
We came to Fargo to be connected to the Grand Farm. We are the big accelerator company that can bring startups into Grand Farm's test site. We want to feed as many technology startups to Grand Farm so they can be tested. We want to try to be global, and bring a global aspect to Grand Farm. We have 30 offices around the world
and run 50 acceleration programs around the world. Our plan is to be connected to all these ecosystems around the world and build a bridge to Grand Farm.
Is this Plug and Play s first venture into the agtech space? Felipe:
We started one that is a little bit of an agtech focus in Brazil, but it's not 100 percent. Our efforts here are the first full agtech vertical with 100 percent dedication to agriculture technologies. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re really excited to dive into this industry as an investor. One of the ways that we make our money is by investing in companies. We didn't know too much about agriculture, and we want to be part of that more because we know the importance of it.
During Emerging Prairie s
grower roundtables this year, one of the big complaints
that we heard was that a lot of the companies that are
doing innovation in agtech
are on the coasts, especially Why should growers care
Once COVID is over, and the
to come to Fargo, what will
about Plug and Play coming
When we first came up with the Grand Farm concept, we broke our roadmap down into five strategic areas. 1. Ecosystem 2. Innovation 3. Makerspace 4. Accelerated Learning 5. Policy and Governance There are some amazing startups that are being introduced into this area. There's a whole bunch of different great startup companies within this region. But we're considering what it would look like if we were able to create some additional capabilities around venture capital that would allow our Grand Farm partners to have an opportunity to invest in some of these great companies that are coming out here.
startups are actually able
that mean for Fargo and the region? Brian:
This will really help amplify the events we already have like 1 Million Cups, Cultivate Conference, Autonomous Nation, TEDx and Prairie Capital Summit. As we move forward, we will be able to create additional events and programming as the startups come here. We'll be able to match them with venture capital firms. We will be able to create opportunities for all the startups and organizations to work together in a collaborative way. This will really bring a lot of focus, energy and attention into this region and really connect us to the broader ecosystem that we described earlier. Felipe:
Emerging Prairie is the best at getting people together at local events. We're the best at connecting people globally. We like to collaborate between verticals, industries, companies, startups and investors. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the plan for Fargo in the future.
in Silicon Valley. Why is it
important for Silicon Valley companies to actually have
boots on the ground here in an agricultural hotspot like Fargo? Felipe:
Honestly, Silicon Valley and the east coast don't know anything about agriculture. We ourselves didn't know much until we moved here. I tell all the startups that come through that if they think New York or Silicon Valley is the place to be because that's where the money is, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re wrong. I think these startups should be here in the Midwest and working close with the farmers. Having these startups here is a great opportunity for them to learn a little bit more about the growers. It's a game changer for startups. Whenever we start to build an ecosystem that is local, with a lot of startups coming over here, the money starts to flow this way as well. To get involved, contact email@example.com
Agtools FOUNDER / CEO - MARTHA MONTOYA HQ - IRVINE, CA AGTECHTOOLS.COM
How did you get the idea to start your company? An epiphany? Or was it something more practical than that? Experiencing supply chain in person worldwide as I have developed specialty crops for the past 25 years and watching how farmers are impacted the most when it breaks down. What does it mean to be part of Plug and Play North Dakota’s Agtech Program? A tangible solution and a blessing to start positively impacting farmers and buyers to avoid losses – food waste, financial and carbon footprint. If your product/service was already being used by everyone...globally... what impact would that have? Engage farmers worldwide to understand that market behavior determines their financial path while impacting food waste and CO2. You’ve already accomplished a lot to get to where you are now. What advice would you have for those just starting their agtech startup adventures?
Agtech is not an overnight success. In fact, it is a mission to improve the worldwide food supply chain. It is a cultural shift across every stakeholder, be patient and resilient. What’s your biggest current staffing (or workload) pain point? Technology? Marketing? Accounting? HR? Marketing to farmers - proper approach, proper language, proper timing. North Dakota, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest are embracing Agtech like never before. When you’ve completed the Plug and Play North Dakota Agtech Program, where do you think will be your optimal headquarters location...and why? Headquarters - not as crucial as creating a physical local presence in the region as we have done in other regions such as Wenatchee, WA for Northwest while hiring local talent. All our engineers and all staff members are in rural areas.
This magazine reaches 15,000+ farmers. In one sentence, what would you like to tell them? There are 76 variables that impact the worldwide market and your destiny. Allow us to demo how fast and swift you can manage through those variables.
â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Microsoft Award Winner Machine Learning and AI â&#x20AC;&#x201C; is a worldwide software as a service (SaaS) global food and agricultural intelligence data solutions company for the food and ag worldwide supply chain platform offering real-time data and intelligence for farmers and buyers to manage market volatility, increase profitability and reduce the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s food waste. We have over 500 commodities, 27 years of historical data, 150 million plus data points and over 50 years of weather patterns worldwide uploading at one billion transactions per second.
FOUNDER / CEO - ROBIN SALUOKS HQ - TARTU, ESTONIA EAGRONOM.COM/EN
takes care of farmers who take care of nature! We launched AI Consulting as a first service. It collects data, gives suggestions and helps with people management. As a second step, we will start paying 25 Euro per captured CO2 for farmers who follow our advice and grow organic carbon levels in the soil.
How did you get the idea to start your company? An epiphany? Or was it something more practical than that? Robin, CEO and founder of eAgronom, comes from a farming family. His father has a 3,000 acre organic grain farm in south Estonia and his grandfather has the same size conventional grain farm. Robin's father started to look for the tool that would help with business management. He didn't find anything easy to use that would combine the agronomical side, financials and people management. Robin had studied computer science in university and together with a friend, they developed the first prototype of the tool that is now used by 1,400 grain farmers in the European Union and Australia. What does it mean to be part of Plug and Play North Dakota’s Agtech Program? Plug and Play North Dakota's Agtech program is our way to get to know more about farming in North-America. eAgronom has a presence in seven countries and two continents, meaning that we understand the uniqueness of different regions. We believe in localizing our tool to match local needs and the AgTech program helps with first research steps.
What’s your biggest current staffing (or workload) pain point? Technology? Marketing? Accounting? HR? eAgronom has been blessed with the good technical talent of Estonia where global unicorns like Skype, Transferwise and Bolt were founded. The biggest challenge for us is to understand who the right local people are in every new market we enter. North Dakota, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest are embracing Agtech like never before. When you’ve completed the Plug and Play North Dakota Agtech Program, where do you think will be your optimal headquarters location...and why? eAgronom is currently in the process of deciding where to locate our NorthAmerica headquarters. Plug and Play North Dakota Agtech Program might give us some answers. This magazine reaches 15,000+ farmers. In one sentence, what would you like to tell them? Take care of nature and nature will take care of you!
You’ve already accomplished a lot to get to where you are now. What advice would you have for those just starting their agtech startup adventures? Focus on customer engagement. This is where the value is coming from. If your customers are using the tool actively and fully, then it means they are getting high value out of it.
FOUNDER / CEO - TYLER MCGEE HQ - RALEIGH, NC SHEPHERDFARMING.COM
How did you get the idea to start your company? An epiphany? Or was it something more practical than that? I grew up working on our family farm in Northeast Montana and realized that there had to be a better way to manage all of the things going on than how we did it. I started really digging into ag and tech in college, coming up with the first concepts with friends in our dorm room and then refined my research in grad school before being hired on at Syngenta where I spent over six years working as a research architect. I showed our concepts to my managers and was given the all clear to start building the first prototype on nights / weekends and then started testing it out with farmer friends back home in Montana. Shortly after that, we were accepted into AgLaunch and have been pushing forward ever since! What does it mean to be part of Plug and Play North Dakota’s Agtech Program? We're so excited to be a part of Plug and Play ND, we can't wait to work with some of the largest companies in the ag and tech spaces to take ideas and concepts that we've been working on with farmers and really bring them to life. Our mission is to prevent anything from getting in the way of the work getting done on farms and we think that working with these groups
is going to let us take that to the next level in new and exciting ways that farmers are going to love. If your product/service was already being used by everyone...globally... what impact would that have? Agriculture is such a tricky industry, which is what makes it so challenging and interesting when looking for problems to solve. Farms have to work so hard to get their crop grown and to market and there are so many hurdles along the way that they really don't have much control over, but that can be made better just through streamlining and intelligent technology. Shepherd is focused on making sure that nothing stops the necessary work on farms from getting done, and on a global scale that really adds up. Not only would farms be able to be confident in their ability to have every stage of the season be taken care of right when it needs to get done, but their quality of life would improve as they would not have to stress about what's coming up ahead and knowing that it's taken care of. You’ve already accomplished a lot to get to where you are now. What advice would you have for those just starting their agtech startup adventures? Being closely connected to the farmers you serve is so key. We work with farms of
all kinds and sizes around the country and take in an enormous amount of feedback and advice and that is what drives our development forward. Don't be afraid to cut features back or remove them entirely if they get in the way of your overall mission. What’s your biggest current staffing (or workload) pain point? Technology? Marketing? Accounting? HR? Marketing and business development. In agriculture, everything is driven by relationships and with 2020, building relationships with farmers and showing them how Shepherd works on their farm and how it solves problems they face every day is just more difficult because face to face meetings are challenging or impossible outright. We're constantly adjusting plans and looking for better ways to meet with growers, but we can't wait for things to return closer to normal in the future. North Dakota, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest are embracing Agtech like never before. When you’ve completed the Plug and Play North Dakota Agtech Program, where do you think will be your optimal headquarters location...and why? We're not sure where we'll end up as far as headquarters yet but our heart and
makes it easy to manage your farm labor directly from your phone. It also captures and builds farm records automatically as work is done, which is important for traceability and sustainability. Shepherd makes managing your farm workforce quick and easy and has the smarts behind the scenes to keep your farm moving forward while keeping records of what's been done.
background comes from the Upper Midwest and our family farm on the plains of Northeast Montana so we know the area and the culture well. Ultimately, a lot of the decision will come down to the right mix of people with the know-how to build what we're planning for the future and farms that get what agtech means for them and are willing to try new things, give feedback on where those new things can be better and take the lead in the agriculture community in terms of driving adoption of new tools and technologies aimed at improving agriculture for everyone. This magazine reaches 15,000+ farmers. In one sentence, what would you like to tell them? Every year, our seeds, chemicals and machinery get better and better while farm labor feels stuck in the past. Shepherd is about fixing that and making farm labor work just as well as the rest of your farm operation.
SPACESENSE CO-FOUNDER AND CEO- SAMI YACOUBI & JYOTSNA BUDIDETI HQ - PARIS, FRANCE SPACESENSE.AI
How did you get the idea to start your company? An epiphany? Or was it something more practical than that? It started with a conversation around how a roofing company was trying to do market analysis by flying a drone over a predefined city. Trying to base an entire country's market on a few cities seemed very impractical but that was the best they could do. Being in the aerospace industry, it seemed obvious that they should be using satellite imagery for this. When we asked the company about it, they did not know that could be a possibility in the first place. So I built a quick proof of concept with satellite imagery and machine learning that automatically would detect if it was a house or not and then identify the roof material type for it. This made me explore more to understand why so many industries are not using such a powerful technology today. One that made a very big impact on me was a conversation with a couple of non-profit organizations. The first one sold solar electrification products in Tanzania and one of their biggest problems was not knowing where the people lived. Even when we go on Google Maps, there are barely any roads or houses mapped outside of the big cities. And the second one was trying to provide aid to people affected by floods in another African country. The only way they knew where to send this aid was from the information they got from the media.
This was shocking because we always see flood maps as soon as the incident occurs. Flood detection from satellite imagery is nothing new. But somehow this was not available, especially when it was needed and it could have saved many from suffering in the floods. In all the cases, if they had the right information at the right time, it would completely change how they operated. Yet, the main barrier to getting access to these insights was lack of access to satellite imagery technology. The main reason for that turned out to be lack of knowledge, the complexity and effort in going from raw satellite data to insights usable by these organizations and the cost of doing so. So I started SpaceSense with the goal to make this technology accessible to everyone. What does it mean to be part of Plug and Play North Dakota’s Agtech Program? Plug and Play North Dakota’s Agtech Program is a way for us to better understand the US farmer and the agribusiness needs here. If your product/service was already being used by everyone...globally... what impact would that have? We would have then achieved the dream of sustainable farming globally.
You’ve already accomplished a lot to get to where you are now. What advice would you have for those just starting their agtech startup adventures? My advice is spend more time talking to farmers and other agtech stakeholders than building the solution itself. North Dakota, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest are embracing Agtech like never before. When you’ve completed the Plug and Play North Dakota Agtech Program, where do you think will be your optimal headquarters location...and why? Not sure. For us, it is important to be closer to our customers that can benefit the most from our solution. We hope to have a more clear answer by with the help of this program. This magazine reaches 15,000+ farmers. In one sentence, what would you like to tell them? SpaceSense helps make precision agriculture more precise at a fraction of the cost.
Pitch We are a Space-AI
startup based in Paris, which sets out to make intelligence from satellite imagery a mainstream commodity. We help data driven agritech businesses and organizations integrate space intelligence in their applications as easy as plug and play. We build specialized AI models for various types of satellite imagery to derive agritech insights like crop health, soil moisture, variable rate zones and much more. We call these "detectors." These detectors are automatically adapted to the fields of the customer so they can receive reliable and validated insights for everyday operations.
CO-FOUNDER/CEO - BRIAN BOHMAN HQ - ST.PAUL, MN INSIGHT-SENSING.COM
How did you get the idea to start your company? An epiphany? Or was it something more practical than that? Our start-up was founded as a result of decades of research in precision nitrogen management at the University of Minnesota (UMN). Tyler Nigon (co-Founder/ CTO) and myself are both Ph.D. students at UMN and our previous research has been focused on finding better solutions to nitrogen management in both potato and corn cropping systems. We both understand that the digital ag tools currently available to farmers and agronomists just simply aren't yet good enough and we are driven every day to find science-based solutions to enable better on-farm decision making for nitrogen management. What does it mean to be part of Plug and Play North Dakota’s Agtech Program? We are so excited to be a part of the Plug and Play program in North Dakota. Fargo is quickly becoming recognized as a global hub of AgTech and we are excited to work with the existing partners in this ecosystem, including with the Grand Farm. In my opinion, there is no better ecosystem for our company than the one we are joining as part of this program. If your product/service was already being used by everyone...globally... what impact would that have? While nitrogen management has an outsized impact on farmgate profitability, it also has the potential for substantial environmental impacts as well. In most cases, negative environmental impacts from inefficient nitrogen management are simple due to the serious challenges of
managing for weather and soil variability and not from a lack of energy or effort by farmers. We know that by providing farmers better digital tools for precision nitrogen management, we are also helping them continue their existing efforts to be good stewards of the land, air and water. You’ve already accomplished a lot to get to where you are now. What advice would you have for those just starting their agtech startup adventures? I recommend starting with a problem that needs to be solved and then working backwards towards finding the right technology to meet the on-farm need. Over our journey, Tyler and I have considered multiple different technological approaches for precision nitrogen management. However, our guiding principle has always been to design a solution that satisfies onfarm needs rather than simply latching on to a technology first and then trying to apply it to every possible use-case. What’s your biggest current staffing (or workload) pain point? Technology? Marketing? Accounting? HR? Our biggest pain point at the moment is the scaling up our technology stack. The data sources and computing infrastructure which work well at the research scale are quite different from those which works well at the on-farm scale. As AgTech matures, however, the number of readily-available data and software resources will continue to increase and reduce the magnitude of this pain point.
North Dakota, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest are embracing Agtech like never before. When you’ve completed the Plug and Play North Dakota Agtech Program, where do you think will be your optimal headquarters location...and why? We are personally convinced that both Fargo and Minneapolis will end up becoming the center of cutting edge AgTech activity for the foreseeable future. Although, we may just be biased – I am originally from the Twin Cities and Tyler grew up on a dairy farm in Central Wisconsin that his family still owns and operates. However, the combination of cutting edge research coming out of NDSU, UMN, UND, UW-Madison, SDSU, etc., the existing presence of major corporations positioned throughout the food and agriculture value chains and proximity to innovative farmers and their partners makes the Upper Midwest the best home for our growing start-up. This magazine reaches 15,000+ farmers. In one sentence, what would you like to tell them? We are exclusively focused on providing data-driven nitrogen management solutions, not on selling sensors, images and other analytics, which don’t have a meaningful return to on-farm decision making.
Pitch Insight Sensing
helps farmers and their agronomists adopt data-driven nitrogen fertilizer management to reduce input costs and increase yields. We provide the digital tools necessary to monitor crop performance, measure crop nitrogen status and determine optimal fertilizer management on a daily basis and for every location within a field. We use readily-available, high quality data sources to predict agronomic key performance indicators using a framework, which is customizable to the specific preferences of an agronomist. Our digital agronomy platform technology pairs a geospatial machine learning platform with custom implementation of agronomic algorithms to meet the unique needs of each crop, geography and customer.
Power Ag FOUNDER / CEO - REED LAWRENCE HQ - FARGO, ND PROPOWERAG.COM | FIND “PRO POWER AG” ON THE APPLE APP STORE
How did you get the idea to start your company? An epiphany? Or was it something more practical than that? In college, my business partner and CoFounder Sam Hanson were roommates. Sam was working as an agronomy intern at a local co-op and was tasked with scouting and making herbicide recommendations. The process was overwhelming and timeconsuming with much of his evenings after work spent researching herbicides that would suit his growers' needs best. Studying computer science, Sam approached me with the simple idea of improving the herbicide selection process with computers. We prototyped this idea and entered the NDSU Innovation Challenge, which we eventually won by promoting the idea that herbicide selection can be done better and can positively change the landscape of agronomy. What does it mean to be part of Plug and Play North Dakota’s Agtech Program? It is fantastic to have the opportunity to shine a light on small companies that might just need an extra push in the right direction.
If your product/service was already being used by everyone...globally... what impact would that have? Weed resistance is a threat to any farmer around the globe. The overreliance on the same herbicides year after year allow for weeds to evolve defenses against these chemicals. In extreme cases, they may not work at all. Herbicide overuse costs farmers more money and can have negative impacts on the environment. We believe that poor decisions are made from lack of information. An informed individual will be able to create intelligent herbicide plans that prevent harmful weed resistance, increase yields, decrease input costs and foster healthy fields for years to come. You’ve already accomplished a lot to get to where you are now. What advice would you have for those just starting their agtech startup adventures? Be guarded with the 3 F's: friends, family and fanatics. They will all tell you the idea is great no matter where it sits. That's not to say their support isn't appreciated. In fact, their encouragement and optimism is crucial to keeping your momentum but echo-chambers are dangerous. It is equally important to listen to your critics and the people that didn't buy your product to help shape your direction.
North Dakota, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest are embracing Agtech like never before. When you’ve completed the Plug and Play North Dakota Agtech Program, where do you think will be your optimal headquarters location...and why? Our founding members are located in Fargo, ND, and the MN Metro area and we intend to stay here. This magazine reaches 15,000+ farmers. In one sentence, what would you like to tell them? Our software will make you a more informed decision-maker for your farm while decreasing costs, improving weedcontrol, minimizing weed-resistance, and improving yields.
In an ever-changing agronomic landscape of restrictive legislation, ever-evolving weed resistance and overwhelming weed-control solutions, Pro Power Ag provides agricultural professionals with a superior weed-control software platform. Our team aggregates massive amounts of realworld herbicide performance data from university and manufacturer research around the country and gives practical agri-business meaning to that data. Available on any device, our software allows for users of all levels of expertise to make more informed decisions, increase weed control, save time and improve yields.
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CO-FOUNDER AND CEO - CHINMAY SOMAN HQ - CHAMPAIGN, IL EARTHSENSE.CO
How did you get the idea to start your company? An epiphany? Or was it something more practical than that? Since 2009, we have traveled the world and spoken with hundreds and hundreds of farmers, agronomists and agricultural professionals. The consistent problem has been the lack of affordable and skilled labor. We knew early on that an advanced robotics and AI platform needed to be created to solve the broad variety of challenges that all derive from the decreasing number of people involved in agriculture all around the world. What does it mean to be part of Plug and Play North Dakota’s Agtech Program? The Plug and Play ND program is a unique opportunity for us to connect with leading agricultural companies, other startup teams and, most of all, more farmers.
If your product/service was already being used by everyone...globally... what impact would that have? Farmers will be able to farm profitably and more easily while simultaneously improving their soils. You’ve already accomplished a lot to get to where you are now. What advice would you have for those just starting their agtech startup adventures? Speak with as many farmers as you can. Put their interests ahead of everyone else's. North Dakota, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest are embracing Agtech like never before. When you’ve completed the Plug and Play North Dakota Agtech Program, where do you think will be your optimal headquarters location...and why? We're already headquartered in central Illinois – heart of the corn belt! We expect to open additional offices all around the
midwest soon to be closer to more farmers and more local talent. This magazine reaches 15,000+ farmers. In one sentence, what would you like to tell them? We're always looking to learn from farmers. Please get in touch with us if you'd like to host our robots on your fields in 2021!
Pitch Lack of qualified labor is hampering agriculture throughout the value chain. EarthSense has created an agricultural robotics and AI platform that's solving the agriculture labor crisis. We are working with crop breeders, enabling them to improve crops faster and we are working with farmers to help them improve their profits while improving their soils.
PRESIDENT - HENRY WEGEHAUPT HQ - DIMOCK, SD PROVENDERTECHNOLOGIES.COM
How did you get the idea to start your company? An epiphany? Or was it something more practical than that? I grew up on a family farm in southeastern SD. I watched my father work long hours and miss out on events because of the cattle chores. With an automated feeding system, the feeding process is greatly simplified. Feed boxes are filled when it is convenient and the measuring, mixing and delivery is carried out automatically at specified times. What does it mean to be part of Plug and Play North Dakota’s Agtech Program? The Plug and Play program is helping us accelerate the commercialization of our technology through mentorship and connections with Plug and Play corporate partners. North Dakota and the startup community in Fargo has built an environment that I believe will play a critical role inspiring and supporting the advancement of the agricultural industry.
If your product/service was already being used by everyone...globally... what impact would that have? The leadership and social fabric of rural communities would be strengthened. Time saved affords farmers other economic opportunities and can greatly improve managerial intensity and work-life balance. You’ve already accomplished a lot to get to where you are now. What advice would you have for those just starting their agtech startup adventures? Seek out your local startup community, and work directly with farmers in developing your product-market fit. What’s your biggest current staffing (or workload) pain point? Technology? Marketing? Accounting? HR? Marketing continues to be the biggest challenge. Farmers face a flood of products claiming to solve all sorts of problems. We are focused on providing a physical solution to save labor – a valuable product, but it is a much larger investment than an app, for example. Right now, it's a matter of building trust and developing a track record.
North Dakota, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest are embracing Agtech like never before. When you’ve completed the Plug and Play North Dakota Agtech Program, where do you think will be your optimal headquarters location...and why? We think our optimal headquarters location will be Sioux Falls, SD, or Fargo, ND. We see a bright future for family farms, rural communities and our business-friendly states. This magazine reaches 15,000+ farmers. In one sentence, what would you like to tell them? Your time should be the most important commodity you have. Don't forget to include it when calculating your cost of production.
specializes in automated feeding systems for beef and dairy cattle operations. The company is focused on providing affordable, labor-saving technologies that increase feed efficiency, improve profitability and give farmers greater flexibility. We work directly with farmers to address the specific needs of their cattle operation and make the best use of their existing facilities and equipment.
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DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT EXPERIENCE, CFO - THOR IVERSON HQ - FARGO, ND FARMQA.COM
How did you get the idea to start your company? An epiphany? Or was it something more practical than that? Howard Dahl and Amity Technology founded FarmQA. Howard and his family have been responsible for some of the biggest business successes in North Dakota, including Melroe, Bobcat, Steiger Tractor, Concord and Amity Technology. Recognizing that agricultural producers and their advisors needed better, more timely information, Howard and his team founded FarmQA. The company's focus is increased operational effectiveness for producers – not the gathering and re-sale of data to third parties. FarmQA also focused from the beginning on building a solution that is secure, scalable and reliable. Many startup companies focus initially on customerfacing apps without addressing enterpriseclass system architectures. Then as they acquire customers and data, they have difficulty scaling and addressing their data failings in the midst of serving and satisfying customers. We took a different approach, building an enterprise-class solution right from the beginning to easily and cost-effectively grow to support very large customer numbers and vast data quantities. What does it mean to be part of Plug and Play North Dakota’s Agtech Program? We’re honored to be selected to be a part of this program. As for any startup, it’s a challenge and a balancing act to apply resources to continuously build out product functionality to meet our target audience's needs and add and take care of
customers while also seeking partnerships and investment. Plug and Play provides us the opportunity to hone our strategy and our pitch, and it connects us with potential investors. It’s the perfect program for a startup like ours, and we're excited to see where it leads. If your product/service was already being used by everyone...globally... what impact would that have? We feel that the Agtech industry to date has come short in meeting the needs – and anticipating the needs – of agronomists. Agronomists are critical to the overall success of crop production. If our tools were being used by agronomists globally, they would be more effective in communicating with their growers and more efficient at collaborating on the right solutions to the problems encountered in the field. They’d enjoy improved workflows between scouts — digital or human, consultants, agronomists, growers and purchasers to drive better visibility and profitability for all. This information would be very valuable when viewed from a traceability perspective in support of higher product prices and the potential of demand-driven or regulatory reporting focused on sustainability.
of tries to get it right. And when you land your customers, treat them well. Work closely with your early adopters, provide exemplary support and they will return the favor by being your greatest champions in the market. And lastly, be prepared to wear a lot of hats. Depending on the day, you may be wearing a marketing, sales, product or business development, financial analysis or customer support hat – just to name a few. If you come from a large development company, this can be equal parts freeing and terrifying. What’s your biggest current staffing (or workload) pain point? Technology? Marketing? Accounting? HR? As mentioned earlier, we started by building an enterprise-class solution. The challenge with this approach is the iceberg problem. A large portion of the product is not highly visible to customers. However, it is critical for a scalable company. Now that the foundation is in place, we need to accelerate the delivery of a robust feature set. To that end, we’re still light on the number of software engineers on staff. This limits our ambitions to grow the company and fill out missing features in our product.
You’ve already accomplished a lot to get to where you are now. What advice would you have for those just starting their agtech startup adventures? Dream…but be realistic. We'd all like to believe that our great idea will be an overnight sensation, but few ideas (even great ones) succeed with "build it, and they [customers] will come" as the only guiding principle. Find the niche for your product, but recognize that it might take a couple
provides digital tools for agronomists and crop consultants. Our solution includes FarmQA Scouting, a flexible and easy-to-use mobile app for spotting and diagnosing issues on the ground and FarmQA Advice, a new feature that lets consultants easily and quickly write crop treatment recommendations. Together, these tools help agronomists and their growers communicate and collaborate more effectively about problems and solutions to improve growing practices and deliver better results.
North Dakota, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest are embracing Agtech like never before. When youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve completed the Plug and Play North Dakota Agtech Program, where do you think will be your optimal headquarters location...and why? As you say, Agtech is being embraced right here in North Dakota, which makes it an optimal location for us. Fargo provides us with good access to agronomists, talent and growers. Access to North Dakota State University faculty and extension people and programs and the proximity of the Microsoft campus provide additional industry and technology support. This magazine reaches 15,000+ farmers. In one sentence, what would you like to tell them? At FarmQA, we're committed to making agronomist, consultant and grower communications and collaboration easier and more efficient than you ever thought possible.
Spornado CEO & CO-FOUNDER - KRISTINE WHITE HQ - TORONTO, ONTARIO SPORNADOSAMPLER.COM
How did you get the idea to start your company? An epiphany? Or was it something more practical than that? Myself and two other founders had been working on the leading edge of sampling the indoor air for fungal spores for decades. Sampling of offices, hospitals and homes is a common tool to identify indoor fungal contamination. While working together at a top commercial microbiology laboratory, we received a request from a crop protection company for a power-less air sampler that farmers can use outdoors. We were shocked to find there wasn’t one so we designed the Spornado. Word of the Spornado spread fast - fungal diseases cost the ag industry a TON of Money. From our start in Potato, we have expanded to a dozen crop/disease combinations. What does it mean to be part of Plug and Play North Dakota’s Agtech Program? We are thrilled to have the opportunity to get exposure, mentorship and support from the Plug and Play ecosystem. The ND Agtech program partners have a wealth of experience and connections can definitely contribute to our company's growth. But most importantly, it will allow us to better get to know farmers in the region and
explore how our technology can help make their operations more sustainable – both fiscally and environmentally. If your product/service was already being used by everyone...globally... what impact would that have? Targeted and reduced pesticide use: saving money, chemical use, greenhouse gases. Extension of the effectiveness of pesticides; target use will slow down plant resistance to the chemicals.
will be in one of these locations that are committing to furthering Agtech and will depend on the client base and which crop(s) we decide to focus on. This magazine reaches 15,000+ farmers. In one sentence, what would you like to tell them? We'd like to help you use your fungal pesticides more efficiently.
You’ve already accomplished a lot to get to where you are now. What advice would you have for those just starting their agtech startup adventures? Keep going! Learn from your growers. Incorporate what you learn and then do it again. North Dakota, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest are embracing Agtech like never before. When you’ve completed the Plug and Play North Dakota Agtech Program, where do you think will be your optimal headquarters location...and why? This is a question that is currently on our radar since we are looking for a US headquarters location. Our optimal location
Pitch The Spornado
early alert system for crop disease helps growers optimize their pesticide use. Our easy to use wind powered air sampler and highly sensitive DNA analysis, allows them to know when crop disease is in the air long before its seen in the field, enabling them to spray precisely, saving time, money and yields.
MycoNourish Limited FOUNDER & CEO - DR. PETER ORRELL HQ - DUNDEE, UK MYCONOURISH.COM
How did you get the idea to start your company? An epiphany? Or was it something more practical than that? Whilst working on academic research, I had the opportunity to get out of the lab and speak to growers. We were interested in finding out if they had ever heard of the specific type of microbes that we work with or had any experience with them. Not only were they fully aware of them, but they had been buying various products and trialling them. The growers were interested in harnessing their potential, but they found that existing products were unreliable and worked on some varieties, but not others or in one season but not the next. We were asked for recommendations of alternative products, but there wasn’t anything available on the market that was suitable for their production systems. After having the same conversation again and again, we realized that there was demand in the marketplace, and with our strong scientific foundation, we knew that we could harness some of the more complex parts of the biology of the microbes to allow them to be able to be used in an entirely new way – customizing them to pair with specific crops to give reliable and consistent performance and tailoring them to improve specific traits of
plant growth to solve the most important production problem in each one. What does it mean to be part of Plug and Play North Dakota’s Agtech Program? The Plug and Play Agtech Program is fantastic, and we were delighted to be selected to take part. The program has a holistic approach to fostering innovative Agtech startups and provides us with connections to their partners, mentoring, networking, insights into the US market and a range of other opportunities. Even though the program has started recently, we have had some great conversations, met a number of other exciting companies, and started to explore opportunities. If your product/service was already being used by everyone...globally... what impact would that have? One of the key benefits of our products is that they help to improve crop quality. In high value crops such as strawberries, an average of 10 percent of production falls below the quality standards required for retail markets. In the EU, 143 billion Euros is lost by growers to wastage in primary production each year. There are countless microbes that have both positive and negative effects on plant growth. Ensuring
that crops are paired with the best ones offers a novel way of improving yields, and over 85% of the world’s crop species could benefit from our technology. By improving crop quality, we can reduce wastage, improve food security and help growers to maximise their revenue. You’ve already accomplished a lot to get to where you are now. What advice would you have for those just starting their agtech startup adventures? Go for it! It is an incredibly exciting journey and you will get a huge amount out of it. It's an amazing feeling to take your future into your own hands, and to have the opportunity to make a meaningful difference with your products. My advice would be to focus on building a great team around you – play to your strengths, and build a team that has the expertise, mentality, and culture to drive your business to success. If you need advice on an issue you have then reach out to those around you. It's amazing how people with vast amounts of experience are happy to give you their time and we are incredibly grateful for the assistance we have received.
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Pitch Maximizing crop quality is key and produce that doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t meet the standards required to go to retail results in wastage and lost revenue. At MycoNourish, we add value for growers. We do this with beneficial fungi that work in symbiosis with crops to enhance yields.
Unlike other products, our exciting innovation allows us to customise new advanced strains of these fungi to pair with specific crops and tailor them to solve the most important problem in each one â&#x20AC;&#x201D; delivering targeted benefits and providing a reliable, sustainable means of reducing wastage and improving yields and profitability.
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What’s your biggest current staffing (or workload) pain point? Technology? Marketing? Accounting? HR? We have had great traction and we are currently working on scaling up production to meet demand, as well as gearing up to launching our first two products. Despite Covid-19 changing how we work, we are managing to juggle many different aspects of the business, and we are really excited for the months ahead. We have a philosophy of playing to our strengths and partnering with others who have experience in different areas, so we are keen to not only grow our internal team, but to also develop relationships with others in the agri value chain, and to further explore the North American markets. North Dakota, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest are embracing Agtech like never before. When you’ve completed the Plug and Play North Dakota Agtech Program, where do you think will be your optimal headquarters location...and why? We are currently based in Dundee, Scotland, which has been an ideal location to start the company. We have had fantastic support from the entrepreneurial community here and programs such as Converge Challenge, The Royal Society of Edinburgh Enterprise Fellowships and Scottish EDGE really help to give companies a head start and provide founders with the training and resources
they need to maximise the potential of their companies. We are also in an ideal location to access hotbeds of production of our initial target crops, so we plan to always maintain a presence here. Having said that, we recognize the fantastic work being done in North Dakota, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, and our introduction to the community through Plug and Play has highlighted the opportunities available, so we would love to have a presence in the area! This magazine reaches 15,000+ farmers. In one sentence, what would you like to tell them? Our fungi are highly adaptable and can solve a wide range of issues, from improving pollination to changing phenology and in the next few years we are expanding into a wide range of crops, so we’d love to hear from you about the improvements that you would like to make in the production of your crops!
Small Robot Company
CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER - SARRA MANDER HQ - SALISBURY, UK SMALLROBOTCOMPANY.COM
How did you get the idea to start your company? An epiphany? Or was it something more practical than that? Farming isn't working. The current system is broken - both environmentally and commercially. With today's technology at our fingertips, why are we still farming with a 100 year old model - tractors? Our cofounder Sam is a fourth generation farmer. After a stint in the tech team at Accenture he took over the family farm and realised the business simply wasn't sustainable longer term - and that farming was one of the remaining analog industries. Time to switch to digital. Robotics and artificial intelligence could be hugely transformative. Small Robot Company was born. What does it mean to be part of Plug and Play North Dakota’s Agtech Program? Cohort: Being in a select group of excellent entrepreneurs, and learning from others facing similar challenges, and a confidential panel to consult, is a huge opportunity. Network: The industry leaders and mentors involved could be game-changing for us at this stage of our journey. Prestige: We are extremely proud of the credibility of being selected for the program, especially the cachet will be good with investors as we build to Series A.
If your product/service was already being used by everyone...globally... what impact would that have? Feeding the world while regenerating the planet. A big vision - but a crucial one. We’ll need to increase available food by a massive 70 percent but farming methods today place too heavy a burden on our environment. Robotics could make food production sustainable, reduce arable carbon emissions by 90 percent, and increase biodiversity and yields by 30-40 percent globally. You’ve already accomplished a lot to get to where you are now. What advice would you have for those just starting their agtech startup adventures? Product market fit is crucial. We've centred our business around farmers, and that has been crucial to our early success. What makes us different is that we’re led by farmers for the benefit of farmers: which has directly led to our development of our Per Plant Farming model, which is unique to the market at present. What’s your biggest current staffing (or workload) pain point? Technology? Marketing? Accounting? HR? Technology - we are moving to the next stage as we commercialize and growing fast! Finding the right people is crucial.
North Dakota, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest are embracing Agtech like never before. When you’ve completed the Plug and Play North Dakota Agtech Program, where do you think will be your optimal headquarters location...and why? Top of our criteria is definitely local support for agritech, and a strong arable farming industry. North Dakota is coming up high for us at present: it's such a key center for agriculture and agritech. We're centred around farmers - this is central to our mission. Being located where we'll get this customer access and industry support is vital. St Louis would be the other place for serious consideration: we've already taken part in a trade mission there, and found the business climate very supportive. This magazine reaches 15,000+ farmers. In one sentence, what would you like to tell them? Robotics offers a real chance to answer the many questions of modern agriculture in responding to climate change, carbon sequestration, biodiversity and of course soil and food security.
Pitch Small Robot Company
is reimagining farming to make food production sustainable. Our mission is to help farmers feed the world while regenerating the planet. Using robotics and artificial intelligence, we have created an entirely new model for ecologically harmonious, efficient and profitable farming. We call this Per Plant Farming.
CEO/FOUNDER - LIRON BRISH HQ - LOS ANGELES, CA FARMDOG.AG
What does it mean to be part of Plug and Play North Dakota’s Agtech Program? Get feedback locally, expand globally. Having access to Plug and Play's partner network in North Dakota and around the world provides an unparalleled 360 degree feedback opportunity for us. We just wish we could be in North Dakota in person! If your product/service was already being used by everyone...globally... what impact would that have? Growers and agronomists would have more time to focus on value-adding decisions instead of administrative hassles and communication. You’ve already accomplished a lot to get to where you are now. What advice would you have for those just starting their agtech startup adventures? Talk to your customers. North Dakota, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest are embracing Agtech like never before. When you’ve completed the Plug and Play North Dakota Agtech Program, where do you think will be your optimal headquarters location...and why? The key for Agtech companies is to have reach where their customers are. While we are based in Los Angeles (used to be the #1 ag county in the US!), we hope to build partnerships with folks on the ground in
North Dakota, Minnesota and the Upper Midwest. This magazine reaches 15,000+ farmers. In one sentence, what would you like to tell them? AgTech adoption shouldn't be hard. Farm Dog makes it easy.
Pitch Farm Dog
turns growers and agronomists into superheroes in the field by saving them time and making communication easier. The software includes an easy-to-use scouting platform that turns field notes into actionable insights, includes a variety of integrated information layers such as John Deere equipment, soil, weather and imagery, and provides actionable insights such as per-field treatment efficacy. Named a 'top 9 app you shouldn't farm without' by SuccessfulFarming and a "top ag app for 2020 and beyond" by CropLife, Farm Dog is used on over 2 million acres and works closely with Extension, John Deere and local growers and agronomists across the US and Canada.
How did you get the idea to start your company? An epiphany? Or was it something more practical than that? We asked growers and agronomists what they wanted.
The folks at Emerging Prairie are taking this month to learn and reflect on 2020.
While the year itself was a challenge for all, the entrepreneurial ecosystem saw
their Grand Farm project take true form.
In each issue of Future Farmer, Emerging Prairie offers up insight into what's new and notable in the cross-section of startups and agriculture.
This month, they reflect on 2020,
unpacking the Grand Farm initiative and
what the year brought for it. They do that
by taking some time to note the programs and projects featured at the Grand Farm. Lastly, with the holidays upon us, they
touch on the mental health of our farmers and how you can help potentially save one this holiday season.
Grand Farm: 2020 Project Recap
Dr. Jon Ulven: Importance Of Mental Health On The Farm
During the 2020 growing season at Grand Farm, there were 40 projects conducted on the Grand Farm, including the work of nine partners. These projects were in augmented reality mapping, soil health monitoring, unmanned aerial systems, unmanned ground systems, autonomous vehicles, sensing and identification of plants, and precision spraying.
Grand Farm: 2020 Summer Program Recap This summer, Grand Farm went from a vision to a fully fleshed out idea. From June to October, Grand Farm hosted 20 different programs and safely had 750+ people attend our programs. To celebrate a successful season, we wanted to recap the season and the work that occurred at Grand Farm.
o solve the problems of tomorrow, Grand Farm starts with the problems of modern agriculture. Our team works directly with growers and industry to better understand these problems (pain points) and work with partners in industry, higher education, and government to help solve these. To do this, the Grand Farm employs direct project management across commodity supply chains, digital system integration, and grower operations. During the 2020 growing season at Grand Farm, there were 40 projects conducted on the Grand Farm, including the work of nine partners. These projects were in augmented reality mapping, soil health monitoring, unmanned aerial systems, unmanned ground systems, autonomous vehicles, sensing and identification of plants, and precision spraying. Of these 40 projects, one high-level project was conducted involving seven organizations. There were also 12 projects conducted which involved two or more partners. Below is a list of partners involved in 2020 projects, and the descriptions of each project.
Project Partners • CHS • Agronomeye • Be More Colorful • Signum • Better Earth Agronomy • North Dakota State University • ND Agricultural Experiment Station • Field of View • United States Department of Agriculture
Using Agronomeyeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mapping software, farmers can make better insights from the information being collected by sensors and UAVs. This example shows how thermal imagery of crops can be combined with water flow maps (using elevation) to understand why crop yields might have been lower in certain areas of the farm.
Thermal+water flow FUTUREFARMERMAG.COM
Agronomeye, Field of View, CHS, NDSU, Be More Colorful, ND Agriculture Experiment Station
Augmented Reality Map of Grand Farm
Agronomeye created an augmented reality map of Grand Farm utilizing data pulled from drones and ground sensors. This project utilized data from 10 different inputs, which will be described as individual projects.
Agronomeye, Field of View
High Resolution Imagery integration into a high-level mapping software.
Utilizing the data collected by Field of View in the first project conducted on the Grand Farm, Agronomeye was able to integrate high resolution imagery (time-stamped) into their augmented reality view of Grand Farm.
Real-time kinematic (RTK) Imagery integration into a high-level mapping software.
Utilizing the RTK imagery collected by NDSU Professor Dr. Paulo Flores, Agronomeye was able to integrate data into their augmented reality view of the Grand Farm.
RGB Imagery integration into a high-level mapping software.
Utilizing the periodic RGB imagery collected by Dr. Paulo Flores, Agronomeye was able to integrate data into their augmented reality view of Grand Farm.
Thermal Imagery integration into a high-level mapping software
Utilizing the periodic thermal imagery collected by Dr. Paulo Flores, Agronomeye was able to integrate data into their augmented reality view of the Grand Farm.
Normalized difference vegetation index (NVDI) Imagery integration into a high-level mapping software.
Utilizing the periodic NVDI imagery collected by Dr. Paulo Flores, Agronomeye was able to integrate data into their augmented reality view of the Grand Farm.
Soil Core Samples integration into high-level mapping software.
Utilizing soil core samples taken by NDSU Professors Dr. Caley Gasch and Joel Bell, Agronomeye was able to integrate information up to four feet in depth at Grand Farm to see soil characteristics in augmented reality.
Veris Survey integration into high-level mapping software.
Utilizing the Veris Survey, soil conductivity measurements taken before planting at Grand Farm, Agronomeye was able to integrate this information into the augmented reality application of the Grand Farm.
Be more Colorful Matt Chaussee came out to Grand Farm to do a 360 degree tour of Grand Farm. To view the tour and click on the different test plots and examine the projects that occurred at the farm, go to tours.bemorecolorful.com/ v/35ze6EL5jAn
Agronomeye, Be More Colorful
360 imagery of Grand Farm integrated into high-level mapping software.
Using the imagery collected by Be More Colorful, 360 pictures were added to the augmented reality application created by Agronomeye.
Field Trial Information integrated into augmented reality map of the Grand Farm.
Using Test Plot maps created by CHS of research being conducted on Grand Farm, information was integrated into the augmented reality map created by Agronomeye.
Corn Husk Enzyme
In a field trial conducted by CHS, enzymes which break down corn husk were measured by NDSU to determine impacts on the microbiome of the soil.
In a field trial conducted by CHS, enzymes which break down phosphatases were measured by NDSU to determine impacts on the microbiome of the soil.
KayJay Ag is conducting replicated trials on: Sugar Beets (eight treatments)
KayJay Ag is conducting replicated trials on: Corn (12 treatments)
KayJay Ag is conducting replicated trials on: Foliar Wheat (10-12 treatments)
KayJay Ag is conducting replicated trials on: Boron in Sugar Beets (four treatments)
KayJay Ag is conducting replicated trials on: Corn Enzyme IF (20 treatments)
Product trial on Iron Deficiency Chlorosis
DPA Yield Point is conducting two product trials evaluating effectiveness against Iron Deficiency Chlorosis by adding nitrogen to treatment groups of soybeans. Two different trials will occur; one on good land and one on bad land.
Soybean Fertility with induced salt burn
DPA Yield Point is conducting two Soybean fertility trials with the use of a product while inducing salt burn with higher rates of inputs.
Corn Fertility Trials
DPA Yield Point is conducting seven corn fertility trials to highlight the importance of quality starter fertilizers.
Spray Drift Trials
Kirk Howatt is conducting 72 precision spray drift tests in different wind conditions.
Weed Height Response
Joe Ikley is conducting four trials on response to herbicide of native and nonnative weeds based on height.
Herbicide Systems Trials
Joe Ikley is conducting 18 trials on effectiveness of different herbicide systems on native and nonnative weeds with the use of indicator species.
Grand Farm Program Manager Dr. William Aderholdt leading a tour of the Grand Farm Test Site. Last summer, Grand Farm safely hosted 20+ events with 750+ people.
Herbicide Additive Trial
Joe Ikley is conducting 14 trials on the effectiveness of herbicide products on native and non-native weed species.
Corn Seed Treatments
DPA Yield Point is conducting three zinc Corn seed treatment demonstration trials.
DPA Yield Point is conducting one Sunflower demonstration trial.
Soybean Seed Treatment
DPA Yield Point is conducting six Soybean trials.
UAS Mapping - NVDI
Dr. Paulo Flores is conducting regular, periodic mapping of the Grand Farm Test Site using techniques in NVDI imagery.
UAS Mapping - RGB
Dr. Paulo Flores is conducting regular, periodic mapping of the Grand Farm Test Site using techniques in RBG imagery.
UAS Mapping - Thermal
JDr. Paulo Flores is conducting regular, periodic mapping of the Grand Farm Test Site using techniques in thermal imagery.
Dr. Caley Gasch and Joel Bell are conducting a Veris survey, which provides electrical conductivity readings of soil at high spatial resolution at two depths.
UAS Mapping - RTK
UAS Mapping - RTK Dr. Paulo Flores conducted mapping of Grand Farm using RTK imagery.
Dr. Caley Gasch and Joel Bell are collecting soil samples at four feet in depth across the entire field. Soils will be analyzed for physical (texture, density, structure), chemical (fertility, salinity, labile organic fractions) and basic biological properties.
Dr. Caley Gasch and Joel Bell are installing soil sensors at multiple locations and depths within each crop block. These sensors will automatically record soil/water content and temperature at high frequency.
UAS/UGS Weed Identification Using Computer Vision
Dr. Xin (Rex) Sun is researching native and non-native weed identification to develop effective tools and systems to identify, map and site-specifically manage weeds, specifically resistant weeds, using latest technologies such as unmanned aerial systems (UAS), bioinformatics, artificial intelligence and chemical/sprayer technologies.
Dr. Joseph Rinehart and Dr. Dacotah Melicher are studying solitary pollinators (Leaf-cutter) and their ability to strategically pollinate fields. This project will show the impacts of multiple trials/demonstrations being conducted on these pollinators, thus showing the impacts of precision agriculture techniques.
Dr. Joseph Rinehart and Dr. Dacotah Melicher are studying hive-based pollinators (honey bees) and the impacts of precision agriculture techniques on hive health.
Field of View
UAS High Resolution Mapping
David Dvorak (CEO of Field of View) is conducting a high-resolution survey of the Grand Farm Test Site.
Better Earth Agronomy
Advanced Genomics Survey of Grand Farm
Better Earth Agronomy conducted an advanced genomics survey of the Grand Farm to determine the baseline microbiology of the soil.
Connection of Sensors to Wireless Network
Signum was able to retrofit sensors NDSU was using to collect soil moisture
This summer, nine partners conducted 40 projects on the Grand Farm. These projects were in augmented reality mapping, soil health monitoring, unmanned aerial systems, unmanned ground systems, autonomous vehicles, sensing and identification of plants, and precision spraying.
About Grand Farm Test Site The Grand Farm Test Site is located south of Fargo on I-29 and is aimed at being a testing ground for Grand Farm partners and bringing people together to highlight the innovative work being done in agriculture in our region. This summer, Grand Farm Test Site safely held 20+ events, hosted 750+ people with 90+ speakers and housed 40 projects from nine partners.
Get Involved A report was created for the high-level project titled “Grand Farm: Digital system integration using geospatial data.” This project served as a proving point for how Grand Farm could add value to the ecosystem through a neutral platform. If you are interested in receiving that report and learning about how you can get involved in Grand Farm, reach out to William Aderholdt (Grand Farm Program Manager) at email@example.com. We’re currently seeking project partners for 2021. Project partners can be startups, corporations, government agencies, higher education, or growers.
• 20+ programs • 750+ people • 90+ speakers
Types of events
This year, we hosted three different types of events at Grand Farm.
Grand Farm Field Days
• Mission: Highlight the work being done on Grand Farm test site and discuss the mission of Grand Farm. • Audience: Grand Farm partners and those interested in Grand Farm mission.
Grand Farm Innovation Days
• Mission: Connect policy makers with industry, grow the innovation ecosystem and make the Red River Valley an innovation hub.
• Audience: Ag-tech companies, policy makers and growers
Grand Farm Growers’ Roundtables • Mission: Identify pain points facing growers and the ag industry. • Audience: Growers and ag industry leaders
his summer, Grand Farm went from a vision to a fully fleshed out idea. From June to October, Grand Farm hosted 20 different programs and safely had 750+ people attend our programs. To celebrate a successful season, we wanted to recap the season and the work that occurred at Grand Farm.
Highlights from the year Growers Roundtable on Crop & Soil Management and Data Visualization
Growers are at the center of Grand Farm. That’s why throughout the summer, we hosted Growers Roundtables so that we can gather industry and farmers together to discuss the real-world problems they’re facing. CHS and other industry leaders came together to discuss pain points around crop and soil management and data visualization. (To read all the pain points identified at Grand Farm Growers Roundtables, check out the September/October issue of Future Farmer Magazine.)
Grand Farm Innovation Day: Information Systems
The Red River Valley has been an innovation leader in agriculture for more than a century. Grand Farm hopes to capitalize and continue that strength as a leader by bringing people together to discuss innovation and drive change. At one of our biggest events of the year, nine leaders in information systems came together to discuss how the staggering amount of data in agriculture is collected and processed in order to make wiser farming decisions. “We were honored to be asked to speak at Grand Farm’s Innovation Day on Information Systems,” said Matt Chaussee, Founder of Be More Colorful. “The nature of our business requires us to make personal connections with other business leaders and Grand Farm provided an amazing opportunity to do just that. We never expect to come out of a talk with a new client, but in this case, that’s exactly what happened! A huge thank you to Emerging Prairie and the Grand Farm team for continuing to grow and expand the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
• Lanny Faleide - Satshot • Eric Berg - NDSU Animal Science • Peter Schott - Genesis Feed Technologies • Reed Lawrence - Pro Power Ag • Russ Schell - RJ Energy Solutions • Brian Larry - Connect Labs • Matt Chaussee - Be More Colorful • Ed Schwind - Signum
• • • • • •
Brian Kuehl - CHS Joe Heilman - Intelligent Ag GK Tech Inc - Kelly Sharpe Levi Otis - Ellingson Anastasia Volkova - FluroSat Jean Henning- ND Corn Council • Mitchell Hora - Continuum Ag • Nancy Shemwell and Venky Swaminathan - Trilogy Networks • Ben Munson - Farm QA/ Amity Technology
Grand Farm Innovation Day: Crop and Soil Management and Plug and Play’s AgTech Expo - North Dakota
It was identified early on in the creation of Grand Farm that in order for our region to become an agtech leader, the entrepreneurs and innovators needed better access to capital. That’s why Grand Farm played a part in recruiting Plug and Play to open their AgTech division in Fargo. To celebrate the completion of the first cohort of 14 startups, Plug and Play’s AgTech Expo was held in-person at Grand Farm and streamed virtually to hundreds of people around the globe. We celebrated the work these entrepreneurs are doing to drive agriculture forward. After the Expo, Grand Farm hosted our Innovation Day on Crop and Soil Management to highlight those leading innovations in our region.
1 Million Cups at Grand Farm and Trilogy Networks Press Conference
Economic development is going to be a big piece of Grand Farm and this was evident on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Venky Swaminathan, Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder of Trilogy Networks, spoke at 1 Million Cups at Grand Farm and afterward held a press conference to announce a project to bring distributed cloud computing technology to North Dakota. Trilogy and North Dakota State University will utilize a combination of distributed cloud computing and traditional cloud computing to implement a computervision, deep-learning algorithm to perform tasks that are currentlybeing accomplished using off-site computing and on-board computing. This algorithm will identify weeds for removal using computer vision and enable targeted herbicide usage–increasing crop quality and reducing environmental impact.
Grand Farm Innovation Days: Autonomous Systems Policy
Innovation hit the streets on Thursday, Oct. 8 as ND Dept. of Transportation unveiled the first autonomous truck at Grand Farm. The truck is an autonomous truck-mounted attenuator and is meant to enhance safety and protect DOT workers' lives. The truck drives behind construction crews providing a barrier for the crew so if a rogue vehicle hits the truck, they will be protected. Senator John Hoeven took the first ride in the passenger seat as the truck drove autonomously from Grand Farm. After the demonstration, Grand Farm hosted an Innovation Day on Autonomous Systems Policy with the mission of connecting the autonomous industry and policymakers in order to make North Dakota the most autonomous-friendly event. Panels were held on public policy, research being done in higher education and the work happening in the autonomous industry as discussions were held on how North Dakota can capitalize on the potential of autonomous vehicles.
Speakers included Policy Panel
• Senator John Hoeven • Nick Flom - Northern Plains UAS Test Site • Cindy Schreiber-Beck - ND House of Representatives • Bill Panos - Department of Transportation • Joel Paulsen - FM Diversion
• Mayor Mahoney - City of Fargo • Joel Honeyman - Bobcat • Tommy Kenville - iSight • Terri Zimmerman - Botlink • Maynard Factor - Kratos Defense
• Mark Haggerott - Chancellor • Mark Askelson - UND • Jane Schuh - NDSU • Frank Casey - NDSU • John Mihelich - UND
Save a Farmer this Holiday Season By Dr. Jon Ulven
During a cold, clear winter evening, Tom considers many worries as the television fails to grab his focus. With his wife in the other room and the kids upstairs, his mind entertains its usual topics. “Will the farm make it? Will the family farm end with me? Is this the year? I wish my marriage was going better. I don’t talk to my kids like I used to.” Tom hurts, both physically and mentally. As he sits in his well-worn chair that supports a body worn by the profession of farming, his mind fills with “shoulds” that part of him wishes were “musts.” “I should make that appointment with the bank, get my back looked at, lose some weight, finish the basement project, open up to my wife and drink less.” Tom gazes out the window as his mind quickly moves to thoughts about dying and wishing it was all over. He feels alone in this house full of family. He feels guilty and ashamed he feels this way. His mind has been here before.
is a licensed psychologist and department chair of adult psychology with Sanford Health.
If this story resonated with you personally or made you think of a family member or friend, I hope you keep reading. In my work as a licensed psychologist in the Upper Midwest for the past 19 years, I am seeing unprecedented demand for behavioral health services that is linked to the significant distress caused directly and indirectly by the COVID-19 pandemic. I am thankful for the opportunity to write to the farming community that I grew up in about the topic of suicide and behavioral health care.
The Scope and Nature of the Problem A survey study of thousands of Americans by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the end of June 2020 found that almost 11 percent had â&#x20AC;&#x153;seriously considered suicideâ&#x20AC;? in the previous 30 days. This same study found that the rate of depressive disorders had increased by 3.5 times at the time of the survey. People are hurting and our winter in the Upper Midwest is coming. The impact of the pandemic is unfortunately adding to an already alarming trend. A 2018 report by the CDC revealed that the rate of suicide has increased by 40 percent in the past two decades in the US. This CDC study also found that farmers ranked among the highest risk occupations for suicide. Most of you reading this article have been impacted by someone who died by suicide. In my clinical work, the primary focus of my care is increasingly working with patients to reduce their risk of suicide.
Why Do People Die by Suicide? Thomas Joiner, PhD, a psychologist and professor, has dedicated his professional career to understanding suicide. Hundreds of studies throughout the world have led him to the following three factors that he believes are necessary to die by suicide. 1. The person at risk believes they are a burden to others. They begin to believe that people would be better off without them. 2. They feel socially rejected, not included, left out. 3. People at risk of suicide have acquired the capacity to harm themselves through experiencing repeated emotional and/or physical pain in their lives. In addition, people at risk of suicide often have sleep problems, nightmares and agitation at the time of a suicide attempt. Humans are biologically wired not to harm themselves or others, so it takes a lot to cross over this wiring to make an attempt. People who make suicide attempts are most often experiencing emotional and/or physical pain that they canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t make go away by other means. They donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to die. They want pain to stop.
What to Look For in People at Risk • Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live • Increased use of alcohol or drugs • Extreme mood swings • Withdrawing or feeling isolated • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
How to Talk with People You Are Concerned About The Columbia Lighthouse Project (cssrs.columbia.edu) offers a helpful guide and screener to “Ask, Care and Embrace” friends and family at risk of suicide. We need to create a culture where we can ask each other questions about suicide when we know that someone is noticeably different. Asking the following questions can be very hard to do, but these questions have saved many lives. I encourage you to practice these questions and use them when you need to. 1. Have you wished you were dead or wished you could go to sleep and not wake up? 2. Have you actually had any thoughts of about killing yourself?
Getting Help If someone acknowledges that they have been seriously considering suicide, I liken this to someone saying that they have chest pain. It could be indigestion or it could be a heart attack on the way. The person needs to have their situation evaluated. If you have immediate concerns, call 911. The police or local sheriffâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s department team are trained to check on the welfare of individuals. In less urgent situations, primary care teams throughout the Upper Midwest have often expanded their teams to include behavioral health staff, and your primary care provider is trained to evaluate risk of suicide. If needed, primary care makes referrals to a behavioral health provider. Suicide risk is fortunately a very treatable condition, and there is often associated anxiety and depression that are also very treatable. One development that has emerged during the pandemic is that we now have the ability to do video visits through your smartphone. I can literally have a therapy appointment with a farmer who has the GPS on and is sitting in the tractor! This technology change affords more privacy, which for some is helpful due to the lingering, unfortunate stigma of mental health.
additional resources f0r farmers 1. Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). This service is free and available 24/7. Trained staff will talk with you about your concerns, ask questions about your risk, and offer suggestions for help. 2. Crisis Text Line – text HOME to 741741. Crisis Counselors will respond to help you manage the moment you are in and offer suggestions for assistance. 3. Behavioralhealthbridge.org is a free website developed by UND’s Center for Rural Health and Sanford to offer helpful information for people with common behavioral health conditions. 4. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders.
In this significant time of change and adversity, I would like to challenge you this holiday season and winter to consider three things: Examine your willingness to reach out if you are hurting. Take more social risks with the people of your community to genuinely ask how people are doing. Develop skills to ask tough questions about suicide. Humans aren’t equipped with venom, fangs, or armor to survive. We have made it this far because we are social and look out for each other. This pandemic is reminding us in powerful ways that we need each other.