Two UC Davis Ag Innovation Showcase Alumni have been featured in an Agri-Pulse article by Eric Englert as tech startups to revolutionize farming. XTB Laboratories’ CEO Ted Batkin and UAV-IQ’s Andreas Neuman were interviewed to talk about their respective companies technology and how it will change the way we produce, protect, and optimize agriculture.
UAV-IQ uses unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones to provide high resolution images and analysis for agriculture clients. The company was started in the US Air Force where Neuman was able to gain insight into the capabilities of remote sensing and unmanned aviation. The company presented their technology at the Ag Innovation Showcase this year.
XTB Laboratories provides technology to agricultural organizations for early detection of plant disease infestations using gas emissions to non-invasively diagnose trees before symptoms begin to show. Currently there is no diagnostic test available to the citrus industry beyond PCR, which has a high false diagnosis rate due to uneven pathogen distribution in trees. The company won the Ideas, Energized Award at the Ag Innovation Showcase in 2016.
Read more here.
AG Innovations 9/12/2017
At Ag Innovation Showcase this past September, 22 companies presented their innovations to a crowd of investors and established Ag professionals.
The predecessor to Ag Showcase’s 10 year anniversary introduced a series of speakers such as Adrien Percy from BayerAg, discussed the future of AgTech, and encouraged college innovations with a University showcase.
Rohit Shukla, CEO of Larta Institute, covers more here.
The “peak oil” scenarios of the 1960s significantly facilitated the development of a more sustainable energy supply that is now suitably safe for our industrial societies. It also prepared us better for re¬acting to other external factors, such as the need for CO2-reduction due to global warming. While we are still witnessing the discovery of new oil resources, it has become clear that peak discovery will come first, followed with some delay by peak production, depending on how responsibly we use the limited resources. The more limited they are, the more valuable they will become.
If we examine the developments in herbicide research over the past 30 years, there are three im-portant numbers we need to bear in mind:
• 28 => years since we discovered the last new herbicide as a mode of action worldwide (cellulose inhibitors in 1989).
• 13 => the average yearly increase of unique resistance cases (species × site of action) for the last 30 years, with no reduction in sight.
• 35 => the number of glyphosate-resistant weeds worldwide in 2015.
But what does this really mean for modern agriculture, herbicide production and the imperative of feeding up to 9.7 billion people in 2050?
Top: No new mode of action since 1998. Center: Uninterrupted growth in more than 450 unique resistance cases globally in 2015. Bottom: 35 glyphosate-resistant weeds up to 2025, with 5 alone in 2014 (Dr. Ian Heap, Weed Science.org 2016)
The numbers seem to suggest that we are running out of new and efficient methods for weed management in modern agriculture. The existing chemical herbicide tools – even though they have become extremely important in reaching sustainable targets like soil conservation or energy saving – are becoming increasingly blunt. Already farmers in 1.2 million fields are fighting against herbicide resistance and weeds are able to multiply much faster than at linear rates. If the development carries on like this and we have no significant innovation to show for, we will run into a “peak herbicide”, when we lose important herbicides to global resistance developments faster than we can generate yields to feed the world.
All these dark future scenarios are not intended to predict the end of the world, but to focus our view on those areas of research and innovation that are important to solve those pressing problems. The Zasso digital herbicide method allows for efficient control of many difficult weeds, especially root-spreading ones like thistles, knotweed or bindweeds, because it damages shoot as well as root systems.
Applying the digital herbicide does not affect soil integrity in any way, nor does it cause new resistances, because the Zasso system is a systemic physical approach – from the top down and right into the roots.The Zasso hybrid weed control concept allows us to extend the lifetime of our dwindling number of certified herbicides. At the same time the chemical input into the environment is significantly lowered – adhering to the clear rules of integrated weed management.
Ed Rogers, co-founder and CEO of Bonumose, a food ingredient technology company, was interviewed by Mike Betts for the Food & Agriculture Innovators podcast. The podcast interviews entrepreneurs, investors, and stakeholders around the world building technology to sustainably and profitably improve the global food system. Bonumose went over their innovation: using natural enzymes to turn plant-based materials into tagatose and allulose, a “good sugar” that is low cost and comes with multiple beneficial properties.
Along with introducing their innovation, the podcast covered these topics in detail:
- What are tagatose and allulose?
- Clinical research behind these sugars.
- How Tagatose and Allulose are made today at a high cost versus Bonumose’s use of enzymes to reduce the cost by more than 10x.
- How Bonumose got started, and the IP behind the company.
- What is needed to get broad scale adoption of these sugars?
- The case for sustainability in producing sugars this way.
- The surprising thing about food and beverage companies and their lack of confidence in consumers.
The podcast can be found on the podcast website or downloaded from Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, and Android.
“The agriculture world is looking for technology to maintain the effectiveness of biotech crops because, in the face of climate change and all these other challenges, we have to maintain that high level of productivity,” said Sharon Berberich, ag industry veteran and Ag Innovation Showcase advisor, in an interview with Silicon Prairie News.
Sharon Berberich established a 25 year career for herself in AgTech with senior positions at Monsanto, DowAgrosciences, Danforth Science Center, and Kaiima and now she finds herself at the helm of Plastomics, a startup using chloroplast engineering to develop the next generation of high performing crops.
While at and in transition for her senior level positions, Sharon has been a long-time veteran of the Ag Innovation Showcase. Under her guidance, SomaDetect and NanoGuard Technologies won the “Ideas, Energized” and “People’s Choice” awards at showcase, respectively. Now with extensive experience in running AgTech R&D programs as well as mentoring startups, Sharon has started her own.
In the next 10 years, global food consumption will increase to 50%. The planet needs to find a way to increase its overall food production in a way that doesn’t further contribute to environmental problems. Plastomics has a solution: engineering plant chloroplasts. The chloroplast is where plants convert sunlight and carbon dioxide into energy for the plant. Plastomics’ chloroplast engineering is a platform that can efficiently introduce multiple traits into the chloroplast and enable simple breeding of traits, such as insect resistance and drought tolerance.
Founded in December of last year by Jeff Staub, Sharon joined this February. Just recently the company has managed to secure seed round funding, led by BioGenerator and The Yield Lab. The funds will be used to set up tobacco, soy and corn platforms and to create proof of concept products.