AgriNovus Indiana has named the winner of the inaugural Producer-Led Innovation Challenge. The state’s agbioscience initiative launched the competition earlier this year in an effort to fill what it says are critical gaps in farm management software.
Benton Group, headquartered in the Benton County town of Ambia, won the $25,000 top prize. The company owns a group a dairy farms in Ambia, Warren and Freeland.
The company’s team for the challenge included Keith Hoening from Benton Group, as well as Paul Ousterhout and Elaine Thorndike form iYOTAH Solutions. As part of the challenge, the company was looking to find a way to produce timely, streamlined farm data more quickly.
Ousterhout says dairy farms are “DRIP,” or data rich and information poor.
“You’ve got all this data but it’s really difficult to make it actionable,” said Ousterhout. “As we were thinking about joining the AgriNovus challenge and thinking about things we’d like to tackle, we were already working on some feed projects and it was just a natural to select that for this particular challenge.”
Hoening says the problem they were looking to solve was delivering the freshest amounts of feed to the farm’s dairy cows as possible at the right times so the cows produce the right amount of milk. He says a variety of information is needed to accomplish that goal.
“If we underfeed the cows, they’re not going to be as productive. If we overfeed the cows, there’s going to be waste there that’s involved and that waste costs us money and so it’s a balancing effort on our part and that’s what we’re tying to do with this,” said Hoening.
The team developed technology that absorbs data from multiple sources, secures the data in the cloud, and analyzes the data to provide “better and more connected information.” Ousterhout says the solution developed for the challenge could become a model for all of agriculture.
The Benton Group Team was selected out of 15 teams that included nearly 60 participants from Indiana, Iowa and Colorado. You can learn more about the team in the video below hosted by AgriNovus CEO Mitch Frazier: