Thursday, December 24, 2015

Tech Op-Ed

Ag technology is on the rise in rural America

Washington-Farmers and ranchers today have access to new agriculture technologies that were once simply a sci-fi dream-drones soaring across corn fields, genetically modified crops growing with fewer pesticides and real-time soil monitoring. Technology and innovation are the future of farming and the American Farm Bureau Federation is working to help rural entrepreneurs pave the way. 

The 2016 Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge, now in its second year, provides opportunities for individuals to showcase business innovations being developed in rural regions of the U.S. This year, four of the top 10 finalists are working to develop new ag technologies.
"It's exciting to see so many ag technologies advancing in the competition," said Lisa Benson, AFBF's director of rural development. "Through the Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge we hope to address competitors' startup concerns and encourage a spirit of innovation in the years to come." 

AgriSync, one of the final four in the competition, developed the first mobile customer support platform built from the ground up for the agriculture industry. The app allows farmers to have one-touch access to trusted advisors who can provide real-time support and services. Located in Dallas Center, Iowa, AgriSync is working to affordably connect isolated communities with consistent results that reduce downtime in the field. 

Farm Specific Technology (FarmSpec) is another final four team and has developed a no-till crimper for crop production. FarmSpec's primary objective is to introduce other innovative technologies, along with the no-till crimper, to efficiently improve the sustainability of global food systems and create new opportunities for growers across rural America. 

AccuGrain, another final four team, is comprised of Iowa State students who are aiming to solve age-old problems inherent with grain measurement technology. The company developed X-ray technology to revolutionize the way the grain industry inventories and measures flowing grain in real time, saving time and providing solutions for farmers and the commercial grain industry.
Strategic Management of Agriculture Related Technologies, or S.M.A.R.T, a semi-finalist team, is working to develop water conservation systems for farms and ranches. 

Three of the top four finalists, AgriSync, Farm Specific Technology and AccuGrain, will have the opportunity to pitch their ag technology business ideas to a team of judges in front of a live audience at AFBF's 97th Annual Convention and IDEAg Trade Show in January in hopes of winning the Rural Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the People's Choice Award, for a potential total of $40,000 to implement their business ideas. 

"The 10 businesses recognized are an outstanding group of entrepreneurs," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "Rural entrepreneurs typically face unique challenges including limited options for support with resources such as startup funding, which we aim to address though the challenge," he continued.
The future of farming is rapidly developing and with innovators and programs like the Farm Bureau Rural Entrepreneurship Challenge, ag technology is no longer simply a sci-fi dream.

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