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Agri-business

ryanbleau

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I'm currently an engineer in the automated farming segment. Working on a business plan for a nearly 100% automated farming system that can be scaled anywhere. Does anyone know of any grant programs or foundations that specifically cater to new ag business trying to get off the ground? This would be run mostly as a for-profit but have a large donation/education aspect to the business model.

Now for the fun stuff:
One of the main issues with traditional farming is water use. My design requires 95% less water overall to make vegetation grow 15% faster with multiple harvests per year.
One of the by products of the system is a rich organic fertilizer that can be sold.
One other main product of the system is organically raised fish free from mercury and antibiotics.
A simple module can be scaled over and over again to increase output.
 

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100k

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Erhm, its called aquaponics. What exactly are you inventing that isn't available on the market now?

As for where you might find funding, I dunno, try googling "feasibility grants Arizona" or "Research & Development Grants Arizona" and see what pops up.

I'm currently an engineer in the automated farming segment. Working on a business plan for a nearly 100% automated farming system that can be scaled anywhere. Does anyone know of any grant programs or foundations that specifically cater to new ag business trying to get off the ground? This would be run mostly as a for-profit but have a large donation/education aspect to the business model.

Now for the fun stuff:
One of the main issues with traditional farming is water use. My design requires 95% less water overall to make vegetation grow 15% faster with multiple harvests per year.
One of the by products of the system is a rich organic fertilizer that can be sold.
One other main product of the system is organically raised fish free from mercury and antibiotics.
A simple module can be scaled over and over again to increase output.
 
OP
OP
ryanbleau

ryanbleau

Silver Contributor
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Erhm, its called aquaponics. What exactly are you inventing that isn't available on the market now?

As for where you might find funding, I dunno, try googling "feasibility grants Arizona" or "Research & Development Grants Arizona" and see what pops up.
My angle is the automated side of things, not aquaponics in general. Thank you for the input.
 

Michael Burgess

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Are you able to bootstrap whatever you're building (eg. use Arduino / Raspberry Pi) and begin organic sales after you have an MVP?

My experience with groups that provide funding are more of a pain in the a$$ than the money they're worth, and your time would be better spent developing your product or system than convincing them to give you money.
 

MHP368

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Are you in the US?
 

MHP368

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az specific (the specialty crop and multi state maybe?)

usda, beginners farm and ranch

maricopa county usda service centers

USDA grant search page

They have a drone company based out of tucson that basically does civil engineer stuff (takes photos and uses them to figure out where water will pool or runoff so farmers can modify this to save water) - this as a service business

They also apparently fly drones in to see how the plants are doing so the farmers can get that data? idk if they augment the drones so they can watch for respiration or if they built software to correlate biomass to growth or how that works but those are two ideas
 

Tourmaline

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@ryanbleau I would think that if you are to do this, you would need to do it where it is most needed. The USA does not need this. Developing countries do.
 

Tourmaline

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Food is already cheap and plentiful for us here. Then there's the other side of our agricultural industry is massive and well established, they're not going to change their ways if it requires completely abandoning their current system and massively reinvesting into a new one. That means it requires, in essence, a new company to be created to compete and have lower prices than the rest of the market.

For this to work in the USA will require it to be significantly cheaper than our current system, especially on the production side. Whereas in other countries that are not already established, a system like this can be started on much smaller scales and gradually grow as is demanded, and they are not already seriously invested in another completely different system.

I think the biggest benefit will not actually be cost. I don't imagine it will be that much cheaper. I may be wrong of course. The biggest benefit is water savings. Again something far more valued in developing countries than in the USA.
 

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Bekit

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Food is already cheap and plentiful for us here. Then there's the other side of our agricultural industry is massive and well established, they're not going to change their ways if it requires completely abandoning their current system and massively reinvesting into a new one. That means it requires, in essence, a new company to be created to compete and have lower prices than the rest of the market.

For this to work in the USA will require it to be significantly cheaper than our current system, especially on the production side. Whereas in other countries that are not already established, a system like this can be started on much smaller scales and gradually grow as is demanded, and they are not already seriously invested in another completely different system.

I think the biggest benefit will not actually be cost. I don't imagine it will be that much cheaper. I may be wrong of course. The biggest benefit is water savings. Again something far more valued in developing countries than in the USA.
The reason I ask is because I've been doing a fair amount of research into agriculture lately. It's not too pretty. Farm bankruptcies are increasing. Midwest farmers have experienced 5 consecutive years of losses. I was listening to a webinar a couple weeks ago where the extension office in South Dakota said that they are getting to the point where people's equipment is becoming obsolete and there is no money to repair or replace it, leading to a vicious downward spiral of being forced to farm fewer acres, leading to even less yearly income.

The average age of farmers in America is 60. Who is going to take their place? I'm guessing it's not gonna be most millennials.

Production is down compared to 5 years ago. The experience of plenty that we have been accustomed to in America might give way to scarcity. It seems inconceivable that we would have anything but cheap, abundant food... But the signs are pointing that we are going that direction.

There's currently about an 80-20 split between family owned farms and corporations who own the land.

But as the farmers retire or go bankrupt, who's buying the land? Not families. There is a massive shift going on right in front of our eyes where the banks and the corporations are taking over the land.

Suicide and mental health issues are cropping up within the farming profession like never before, due to the unprecedented pressure farmers are under. They are being squeezed by more factors than ever.

There's a fair amount of pain being felt by farmers who are watching their colleagues and neighbors fail.

I'd say the time is right. People are willing to depart from tradition and adopt new ways of producing food. Especially if that's going to use less water and give better control over the growing conditions.

And I'd guess that combining aquaponics with automation is going to be a welcome part of that story.
 

Tourmaline

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I'd expect agriculture to become like so:
1. Basic foods are imported almost entirely.
2. Farmers in America only grow speciality or luxury goods. Vineyards, cattle ranchers, etc.

The farms should have gone out of business long ago and are mostly propped up by the USDA's subsidies and captured by corporate loan givers. It's really not a pretty landscape at all.

I do see what you're saying however.

If the status quo is failing then perhaps a more 'grassroots' movement based on aquaponics can takeover the oil based large scale monocrop system that currently exists.

Seems possible, seems doable. When and how becomes the challenge!
 

NMdad

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Another funding option could be start-up pitch competitions. I've known colleagues who've won pitch competitions where the prize amounts are 4- & 5-figures, and it's basically a grant--no equity is required to receive the cash. Some areas are much more competitive though (e.g., Austin TX).
 

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