Now in its eighth year, the Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge provides opportunities for Farm Bureau members to showcase business innovations being developed for agriculture. This year, the Grain Weevil Corp. was announced as the winner of the competition.
The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, announced the winner at the 2022 American Farm Bureau Convention.
Grain bin robot announced as winner
The Grain Weevil is a grain bin management robot that improves quality and eliminates the need for farmers to enter grain bins. Grain Weevil Corporation received a total of $50,000 in prize money to help grow the business. Ben Johnson, a Nebraska Farm Bureau member, is team lead for the company.
Other winners announced
Birds Eye Robotics was named runner-up in the contest and received a total of $20,000. Scott Niewohner, a Nebraska Farm Bureau member, is team lead for the company. Birds Eye is an autonomous robot that helps maintain poultry houses and improves animal welfare by encouraging bird activity.
Caravan Tech LLC, a top 10 semi-finalist, won the People’s Choice Award, which is decided by public vote, and received $5,000 in additional prize money. Richy Naisbett, an Alabama Farmers Federation member, is team lead for the company, which provides real-time remote management solutions for ranchers and cattle breeders.
The final four teams were selected on Friday from 10 semi-finalist business owners who presented to a panel of four industry judges: Will Hileman, president & CEO, Farm Bureau Bank; Gary Matteson, vice president, beginning farmer programs and outreach, Farm Credit Council; Ben Fogle, partner, Midwest Growth Partners; and Taya Spelhaug, TechSpark manager, Microsoft.
Each of the 10 semi-finalist teams was awarded $10,000; the final four teams were awarded a total of $15,000 each.
“Start-up companies like those we’re honoring today are helping to shape the future of agriculture,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “It’s a pleasure to recognize these entrepreneurs for the innovative solutions they’ve developed that will help farmers, ranchers and rural communities thrive.”
The Ag Innovation Challenge winner was selected by a three-person judging panel: Gregg Warren, managing director, Corporate Banking Group, American AgCredit; Jenn Smith, program director, Grow-NY, Cornell University; and Lydia Turkié, director, Creative Destruction Lab, Georgia Tech.