Innovation is ingrained in agriculture and this week, Iowa is celebrating the many ways a culture of innovation is fostered – from the farm to the board room.
It’s a culture that cannot thrive without leadership of Iowa farm families in adopting new technologies and management practices to produce food, fuel, and other products more efficiently and sustainably than ever before.
“Agriculture is the backbone of our state’s economy. Iowa’s innovative farmers and robust agribusinesses are increasing productivity, improving soil health and water quality through technology and conservation practices,” said Gov. Reynolds. “Ingenuity and agriculture go hand-in-hand. We’re modernizing our ag infrastructure and supporting entrepreneurial opportunities in our rural communities. That’s how Iowa is and will remain a leader in feeding and fueling the world.”
This article includes links to several stories featuring Iowa start-up companies who continue to create solutions for agriculture and lead the way with a spirit of innovation.
“Whether it be with soil health overall or with carbon, there’s no consistency around how we actually measure it,” says Mitchell Hora, founder and CEO of Washington, Iowa-based Continuum Ag.
His start-up aims to do that through its web-based platform called TopSoil, which gathers agronomic data and compiles it in a single interface.
Iowa-based PowerPollen was founded in 2015 by agriculture industry professionals who formerly worked in plant genetics, biology, and engineering.
“Pollination is the most important biological process in agriculture. Without pollination, you won’t get the seed,” says Jason Cope, cofounder and chief intellectual property officer. PowerPollen developed a process of collecting, preserving, and dispensing pollen that maximizes yield potential and mitigates the risks of decreased crop output.
“Our mission at Tractor Zoom has always been to be the industry leader for finding and valuing heavy equipment,” says Kyle McMahon, CEO of Tractor Zoom.
Tractor Zoom connects farmers to the exact piece of equipment they are looking for right from their phone. The company now has 80% of all auctioneers and 20% of all dealers listed on the website. In total, there are over 1,600 auctioneer and dealership locations featuring equipment on the site.
“Spraying crops is necessary, but conventional options, such as ground rigs and crop dusters, have their challenges,” says Michael Ott, founder and CEO of Rantizo.
Equipped with a boom sprayer that has a 20-foot swath, ag-grade components, and a 2.7-gallon tank, Rantizo’s drone technology can apply liquids (e.g., pesticides) and solid products (e.g., fertilizer, cover crop seed, beneficial insects).
“Iowa is where the world’s agricultural leaders come to connect, collaborate, and solve some of the most challenging issues in agriculture today,” said Billi Hunt, executive director of America’s Cultivation Corridor. “Developing new innovations and technologies is just the first step; connecting with researchers, leaders, and farmers around the world to bring those advancements to the market is critical to achieving our goals.”
FarrPro founders Amos Petersen and Chris Hanson are on a mission to save the lives of piglets.
FarrPro’s first product, the Haven, replaces the antiquated and ineffective heat lamps in farrowing rooms and creates a semi-enclosed microenvironment in which piglets can mature safely at an optimal temperature.
FarmlandFinder was launched in 2016 as an online suite of tools to bring transparency to the ag real estate market for farmers and to help farmland real estate professionals and lenders with property acquisition, valuation, and analysis. New York City-based EasyKnock acquired FarmlandFinder’s brand, URL, and farmland sale-leaseback platform in August 2021. Growers Edge, a provider of data-driven financial technology solutions for the agricultural industry, acquired the lending and appraisal software, as well as the farmland sales website, from FarmlandFinder.
“Iowa continues to lead, not only in agricultural production, but also in innovation. When we face challenges, we develop solutions to enhance the sustainability, productivity, and efficiency of our agriculture community,” said Mike Naig, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. “No other state has the strength of established industry leaders, growing start-up ecosystem, forward-thinking farmers, and world-class research and land grant universities that we do.”
Iowa agriculture is responsible for a direct economic output of $88.3 billion and more than 315,000 jobs contributing $17.57 billion in wages, according to the sixth annual Feeding the Economy report.
This report, commissioned by 30 food and agricultural groups, highlights the total impact of agriculture from the farm through the supply chain.
Iowa’s agriculture industry includes global leaders in all sectors — advanced manufacturing, agricultural processing, animal health, plant sciences, predictive agriculture, renewable fuels, and more — as well as start-up companies with new technologies that will boost productivity, animal care, and sustainability for farmers in Iowa and around the world.
“When we think about Iowa farming, we often think about the farmer,” says Iowa Farm Bureau Federation President Brent Johnson. “But especially during Ag Week, we want to highlight the many essential people who help get a crop from the ground and into your fuel tank, local grocery store, or everyday products we don’t consider that have an ag tie. From truckers and manufacturers to food safety workers and retail chain employees, Iowa agriculture would not be as strong as it is without everyone working together.”