Farm Group Expands R&D Program to Include Robot Innovations

FBN Tractor400x275.jpg

August 2, 2021

Farmers Business Network (FBN), a global farmer-to-farmer network and agricultural technology company, has announced it will begin taking 2022 applications for its FBN On-Farm R&D Trial Program, a real-world testing program for sustainable agriculture and innovative technologies that connects developers of tech solutions, including robots and sensors, directly with farmers and large scale, on-farm, real-world testing environments.

The goal of the program is to accelerate the commercialization of innovative technology that benefits farmers, manufacturers, and the environment, the group said. In the 2021 season, FBN’s program was quickly oversubscribed, spurring the need to expand capacity to accommodate more innovators. Applications for innovators to test products can be submitted on FBN’s website, and applicants are encouraged to apply by Sept. 1, 2021 to guarantee consideration for 2022 trials (final deadline is Sept. 30, 2021).

“Our goal is to partner with the emerging world of crop protection 2.0, with a special emphasis on bio-based innovators and robotics companies,” said Amol Deshpande, CEO and co-founder of FBN. “The FBN On-Farm R&D Network creates a win-win for farmers and innovators alike, offering a vast, real-world testing ground for innovators and tangible incentives for our sustainability and technology-focused farmer members.”

The program connects innovators with a large and growing pool of farmers to test, refine, and demonstrate the efficacy of their products, using real-world farms to generate critical data on how products perform at scale, in realistic production settings rather than simple research settings. Participating farmers have access to leading technologies, incentives to participate and transparent information on ROI. The group said the best products and services will win on their value and performance.

The FBN said it can deliver a path to commercialization by providing developers with:

  • Large-scale testing on real-world farms across diverse geographies and production environments, including variable soil types, management practices, and weather patterns.
  • High-quality, unbiased, real-world performance data
  • Rigorous data science analysis and customized analyses (data is only shared from farmers who opt in to participate, explicitly consenting to provide their data for this purpose)
  • Potential access to the FBN’s e-commerce platform, which directly links manufacturers with farmers.

The FBN said it currently has a member-based network of 27,000 farmers spanning 70 million acres in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. For the 2022 trials, FBN said it will introduce a new trial dashboard, enabling participants to track the status of their trials in real time and access detailed agronomic, weather, and performance data. Manufacturers will also be able to test products for any crop across the U.S., Canada, and Australia agriculture markets.

“We’re looking forward to providing FBN members and developers with cutting-edge analysis that identifies the precise agronomic and environmental conditions under which certain products perform well, all based on unbiased, real-world data from realistic production environments,” said Matt Meisner, vice president of R&D at FBN. “This is an unmatched opportunity for companies looking for comprehensive trials on real-world farms.”

In addition to biological products, Meisner said he is hoping to trial robotic weeding systems, drone-based application systems, and sensors that improve in-field precision management.

To learn more about the Farmers Business Network, visit its website here.

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