Ag Innovation Challenge Highlights Midwest Entrepreneurs and Grand Farm Partners

Grand Farm recently attended the 2022 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge at the AFBF Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. The Ag Innovation Challenge is a national business competition that showcases U.S. startups developing innovative solutions that address challenges facing America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural communities. The challenge was launched in 2015, the first national business competition of its kind focusing exclusively on rural entrepreneurs and is sponsored by industry leaders including Grand Farm partner Microsoft. 

Ten teams from across the country were selected to pitch at the Innovation Challenge which looks to identify top entrepreneurs who are addressing both traditional challenges farmers face on their operation, such as access to labor, optimizing yield and reducing operating costs, to entrepreneurs who are addressing new challenges facing farmers and rural communities. 

“Each year, I’m in awe of the inspiring minds that travel from across the U.S. to showcase their innovative ideas and participate in the American Farm Bureau’s Innovation Challenge. The ag industry has a bright future ahead,” Taya Spelhaug, TechSpark Manager for Microsoft and Ag Innovation Challenge judge said.

The teams included Grand Farm partner CHONEX, a soil health company that has developed a biological, proprietary process for upcycling poultry manure into a concentrated microbial bio-stimulant used to improve soil health. The top four teams advanced to a final round competing for a $50,000 prize. Impressively, three of the four finalist teams hailed from the midwest.

The winning team, Grain Weevil, is a father - son team who are building a grain bin safety and management robot. The innovation came directly from a farmer’s challenge, "Build me a robot so I don't ever have to go into the grain bin again."

“Everyone in agriculture knows someone who has been impacted by a grain bin death,” said Dana Peterson, Chief Strategy Officer of Grand Farm, who attended the Innovation Challenge. “It’s exciting to see entrepreneurs using innovation not only to solve grower pain points, but also to save lives.”