Crops News

Did Mark Cuban really set a planting speed record on ‘Shark Tank’?


Seedsheet is basically Planting for Dummies. Scratch that. Let’s call it Idiot-Proof Gardening for Newbies. The premise is that Seedsheet offers a weed-proof sheet that can be outfitted with biodegradable pouches with a plant in each one. All you do is lay the sheet in a window box or other container, water it, and watch it grow.

That’s all fine and dandy — we’re not ones to deny someone a miniature farmers market right at their fingertips.

The product was featured on last Friday’s episode of “Shark Tank.” We’re not going to go into the details of the pitch, but you can read about it here. What got weird is when Cam Mackugler, the owner of Seedsheet who was seeking $500,000 for a 10 percent stake in the company, invited Mark Cuban to the front and offered to let him set a precision-planting record.

This isn’t what the real ag community thinks of as precision planting, so you can understand why there was some letdown in the end result.

A representative from Record Setter was on hand to watch Cuban unroll a long stretch of Seedsheet (with plants lined up 13 wide) over a layer of dirt. The goal was to “plant” 7,000 seeds faster than ever before — though in this case, the term planting was used loosely since no digging was involved.

It took 14.15 seconds, and Cuban was awarded a plaque from Record Setter for his effort. And there were celebratory streamers.

Of course, we’re uneasy with calling this planting because it creates a myth that romanticizes growing as clean and super easy (part of the fun of growing plants should be experiencing the dirt, as well). But the fact that there were only about 90 rows with 13 seed pods in each row raised some red flags. If grade-school multiplication taught us anything, it appeared the move fell well short of the 7,000 claim.

Thankfully, the founder of Record Setter, Dan Rollman, clarified the circumstances: In an email to AGDAILY, he said: “There were 1,235 dissolvable pouches in the Seedsheet Mark Cuban used, each containing six seeds. Announcing 7,000 seeds accounted for any potential product design anomalies. We based ‘precision’ on the seed pouches being 2″ on center apart, suitable for the leafy greens that were planted. Each pouch contained 1/2 inch of soil.”

We’re happy to have gotten an answer, because at first glance, it did seem like there were some corners being cut.

Rollman also said that Cuban had some guidelines to follow as part of the record. They were:

  • Must use viable seeds with consistent and adequate spacing for full plant growth
  • Seeds must be firmly planted on a leveled, healthy soil base
  • All seeds must be laid fully beneath soil’s surface
  • Timing starts when first seed is planted in soil
  • Timing stops when all seeds are beneath soil
  • No assistance from others permitted

Think with a little prodding that the creator of Seedsheet would make one big enough to cover a 2,000-acre field?


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