Jan 11, 2022

Grain Weevil Wins Ag Innovation Challenge

Grain bin management robot improves quality and eliminates the need for workers and farmers to enter grain bins

The Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge, now in its eighth year, provides opportunities for Farm Bureau members to showcase business innovations being developed for agriculture.

Grain Weevil Corp. is the winner of this year’s competition. The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, announced the winner at the 2022 American Farm Bureau Convention.

The Grain Weevil is a grain bin management robot that improves quality and eliminates the need for grain workers and farmers to enter grain bins. Grain Weevil Corp. 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.

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.

Two other finalist teams also competed in the final four round of the competition: Marble Technologies and StemPunk.

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.

Farm Bureau is proud to recognize these innovative businesses, in partnership with sponsors Farm Credit, Bayer Crop Science, John Deere, Farm Bureau Bank and Microsoft.

2023 Ag Innovation Challenge

Applications are now being accepted for the 2023 Ag Innovation Challenge. Learn more at fb.org/challenge.

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