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Land O’Lakes farm-friendly drone challenge to award $150,000


Land O’Lakes is calling on innovators from the tech industry to help make drones more ag friendly through a little competition called the Land O’Lakes Prize: Drone Challenge.

A crowdsourcing contest designed to develop proposed solutions that enable scalable, autonomous drone usage in precision agriculture, the Drone Challenge will award a prize of $140,000 to a grand prize winner who is found to meet all the requirements of the challenge, and two $5,000 prizes to two runners up. The winners will retain intellectual property rights to the solutions they develop to help farmers use drone technology more effectively.

In connection with HeroX, Land O’Lakes hopes to surface valuable, user-friendly drone solutions that will enable farmers to make better decisions for their crops as they work to produce more food to feed more people.

“We’re offering the Land O’Lakes Prize to accelerate the development of drones for the ag industry. We believe with a few more years of work and the direction
we’re providing, backed by insights from our network of 300,000 farmers, we can create a marketplace for drones that ultimately creates better solutions for the farming community,” said Mike Macrie, chief information officer for Land O’Lakes.

As a farmer-owned cooperative, Land O’Lakes offers its member-owners a rich ag tech portfolio through its Geosys and WinField United businesses, including tools like R7 by WinField. Combining world class imagery and existing precision agriculture tools with an automated, scalable drone solution has the
potential to provide even more valuable decision making data to farmers.

“Drones don’t offer a good return on investment for farmers today,” said Mike Vande Logt, EVP and COO for WinField United. “A farmer has to get to the field, launch the drone, take the pictures, pack up, download the data, stitch the images together, then figure out what the images are telling him … it’s time
consuming and the applications are difficult to use.”

Innovators have until Aug. 1, 2017 to enter. Eligibility and complete guidelines are available here. Working with judges from the University of Minnesota and WinField United ag tech experts, Land O’Lakes will invite finalists to attend a live demonstration event at an FAA approved test location and to determine the winners.

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