Using Big Ideas to Thwart an Invasive InvaderShare
According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), fall armyworm was first confirmed on the African continent in 2016. This destructive pest can feed on 80 different crop species, including corn, a food staple in Africa. It has been found in more than 30 African countries and poses a serious threat to the food security, income and livelihoods of people.
Earlier this year, Land O’Lakes International Development, a nonprofit affiliated with Land O’Lakes, Inc., teamed with Feed the Future and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research to sponsor the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize. Since 1981, Land O’Lakes International Development has implemented over 300 dairy, livestock and crops development programs in nearly 80 countries — growing farmer, cooperative and commercial businesses along the way.
Great interest, near and far
More than 225 applications for the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize were received — 81 percent of them from the African continent. Ultimately, 20 finalists were chosen by the judging panel. One of the judges was Joel Wipperfurth, director of e-business for WinField United — the crop inputs, seed and insights business of Land O’Lakes, Inc. The judging panel assessed the commercial potential of farmer-friendly digital innovations and helped the competitors hone their solutions. Innovations had to provide relevant information, be accessible to a wide range of users and have the potential to scale. You can hear about Wipperfurth’s experiences firsthand as a judge for the prize in Uganda on this episode of the Deal With Yield podcast.
Ag tech leaders
Land O’Lakes, Inc. and WinField United are committed to using technology to feeding human progress and helping farmers grow food more sustainably. Emerging Leaders in the Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge are acutely aware of this commitment and see it firsthand during their internships with Land O’Lakes.
Every year, Emerging Leaders spend a week at agricultural cooperatives across the Midwest where they observe WinField United technology tools in action. These tools have a variety of capabilities, including the ability to inform farmers when there are problems in the field so that they can be addressed quickly, and exactly when and where nutrients and crop protection products should be placed to make applications as precise as possible.
Emerging Leaders also have the opportunity to present a final project through the internship, with a focus on one of the Land O’Lakes, Inc. business units. Through these final projects, Emerging Leaders see firsthand the capabilities and power of ag technology — in fields in the U.S. and in Africa.
And the winners are…
Winners of the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize were announced in November. The grand prize of $150,000 went to Farm.Ink for its Fall Armyworm Virtual Advisor — an interactive solution that provides users with knowledge on how to identify, scout and treat fall armyworm. Two runner-up prizes of $75,000 each were awarded, as well as three frontier innovation awards of $50,000 each.
Tech Prize winners will use the funding to invest in product development, staffing and scaling their businesses to bring the solution to market, with the broader goal of helping farmers stop the fall armyworm epidemic. You can read about the winners here.
Through innovative initiatives, Land O’Lakes and WinField United are helping farmers in the United States and across the globe optimize yield potential, return on investment potential and sustainability through the use of technology. The future of food production is here — and everywhere.
© 2018 Land O’Lakes, Inc.