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Ag startup finalists announced for Manure Innovation Challenge


September 24, 2019
By Manure Manager

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The Yield Lab Institute, an agrifood tech entrepreneurship support organization, announced the eight chosen companies it will work with over the next couple of months to develop manure solutions as part of the Manure Innovation Challenge.

These companies were selected from 63 applicants and each gave initial virtual pitches presenting their company and their solution. Each of these companies brings a scalable solution that can help make manure more valuable, sustainable, and manageable for farmers.

The challenge will support each of the selected companies in commercializing their products through mentorship, commercial strategy guidance, and network access over several months. Upon conclusion of the programming phase, the selected companies will compete in a pitch competition for a cash prize.

The eight companies selected are:

  • CowPots produces and distributes biodegradable, nutrient rich, plant pots from the manure produced by the founder’s family dairy farm.
  • BioFiltro offers a worm powered solution for wastewater treatment. With its BIDA System, BioFiltro enables customers to remove suspended solids, nitrogen, and phosphorus from their liquid waste stream within a four-hour process and generate water and worm castings ready for agricultural reuse.
  • CHONEX has created an FDA approved process using black soldier fly larvae to turn chicken manure into organic fertilizer and a high protein poultry and aquaculture feed.
  • N2 Applied has developed a technology that allows farmers to add nitrogen from the air to manure and converts the ammonia in the manure into ammonium nitrate, creating a valuable fertilizer.
  • SoMax Bioenergy uses hydrothermal carbonization as part of their Elemental Recycling Platform to produce hydro-char and nutrient rich liquid fertilizer from manure and other waste materials.
  • Digested Organics has created several advanced filtration solutions to help businesses reduce wastewater disposal costs, reclaim clean water for reuse, and produce valuable fertilizer.
  • Phinite has built a revolutionary dewatering system using constructed wetlands, turning manure into high value organic fertilizer and bioenergy fuel.
  • Biomass Controls PBC has developed a transportable Biogenic Refinery, and a software platform, “kelv˚n,” to control and remotely monitor pyrolysis to reduce volume, produce thermal energy and recover nutrients as pathogen free biochar from manure.

“We are looking forward to working with this group of innovators determined to bring new solutions to the table,” said Heather Tansey, global sustainability director for Cargill’s protein and animal nutrition businesses. “Manure management is a critical issue, and addressing it has many benefits that increase the efficiency and resiliency of our supply chains.”

The first programming event for the selected companies occurred on Sept. 11 and 12 in Kansas City, Missouri adjacent to the annual meeting of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock (GASL) in Manhattan, Kansas. Participants from the startups had an opportunity to get to know one another, set goals for the challenge, and receive training from advisors and mentors. Individual meetings were also held to discuss environmental impact metrics as well as introduce local experts and GASL attendees.

Sandra Vijn, director dairy for the WWF, who participated in the programming event explained why the challenge is so important, “Livestock waste represents a big portion of our food system’s environmental footprint, but it still has tremendous, untapped value. By finding new ways to extract more fuel, fiber, and fertilizer from waste, the Manure Challenge can help food producers reduce the impacts of agriculture while increasing productivity and efficiency. It’s a win-win for people and the planet.”

A second programming event will occur in November alongside the Sustainable Agriculture Summit in Indianapolis, Indiana and the final programming event will be in early 2020.