Crowdsourcing variety performance data to boost performance, variety adoption and farmer empowerment

Award Information
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2018-33610-28279
Agency Tracking Number: 2018-00206
Amount: $99,475.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 8.12
Solicitation Number: N/A
Timeline
Solicitation Year: 2018
Award Year: 2018
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2018-07-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2019-12-31
Small Business Information
1761 DEWEESE ST, Fort Collins, CO, 80526-2262
DUNS: 080677234
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Nicolas Enjalbert
 founder
 (530) 650-5491
 jn.enjalbert@gmail.com
Business Contact
 Nicolas Enjalbert
Title: founder
Phone: (530) 650-5491
Email: jn.enjalbert@gmail.com
Research Institution
N/A
Abstract
In today's tight agriculture economy, one of the most important decisions a farmer makes throughout the year is what type of seed to plant. Optimum yield, maturity, and disease resistance for a specific environment will secure farm revenue by creating better production and decreased use of inputs. However, in a highly consolidated industry where the top 3 players control 60% of the seed market, data is tightly controlled and transparency profoundly lacking. Seed options are decreasing, with varieties developed to maximize profit margins for the seed companies rather than performance for the farmer. The results are low adoption rates for new varieties, yield plateaus on the farm, a lack of options, price increases, and high input agro-industrial ecosystems rather than diverse management/prevention-based agricultural systems, such as organic agriculture. The global vegetable farmer's community, a $543 billion global market at the farmgate, will benefit having granular data to make better variety decision, and so more secure production.The customers: At Seedlinked we identify an information gap between growing regional vegetable seed companies/plant breeders and seed users (farmers and gardeners) in addition to a lack of market access for regional seed companies due to consolidation. Seedlinked will focus its minimum viable product (MVP) on vegetable seed/seed markets, as it is the most mature in online distribution. Our two main customer groups are seed companies/breeders and seed users - farmers and gardeners. Our second customer group, the seed user, themselves, has two pools: vegetable farmers and gardeners. Due to lack of available data in today's vegetable seed market, $3.8 billion in value in the US - seed users tend to base variety choice on personal experience, trusted recommendation, or a relationship to a local seed dealer. This is especially true for small to medium sized farms, 85% of all farms in America today, often due to a lack of access to expensive digital farming platforms most available to large scale farming enterprises. In addition, the vegetable market has a large gardener's customer, smaller in market value to farmers, but 1500 time larger in number - 32 million household plant vegetables every year. This vast gardener customer base is a very large data opportunity. Gardener experience and so data quality is too often underestimated.The value Proposition: Following a citizen science based approach, SeedLinked is proposing to combine an intuitive smartphone application with seed user triadic collected observations to generate valuable data to help guide seed selection and choice on both ends. On one end breeders will have access to variety performance from hundreds to thousands of locations (contrast this to an average dozen data locations for most current breeding programs). On the other end, seed users will have access to granular data from their own bioregion such as USDA hardy zone, indicating what seed will work best for their specific regional needs. SeedLinked will provide a tool to improve farm management by providing a seed recommendation platform; generate empowerment by directly engaging the farmer in the variety testing and breeding; and increase seed knowledge. SeedLinked also demonstrates a new seed enterprise model bringing new access to markets, and increased opportunities for independent breeders and emerging seed companies.Innovation: By crowdsourcing large amounts of data from the end user, we are proposing a radically different approach to seed selection. SeedLinked is developing a platform, that can take weather data, soil data, and crowdsourced observation from participants following a triadic model (Bradley Terry) and, using ranking models (Plackett-Luce ranking), generate recommendations for what to plant, and ultimately provide a valuable tool to help guide important decision making in the plant breeding process. Our major challenge to overcome is demonstrating th

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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