Farm Bureau Names Ag Innovation Challenge Winners

A Colorado robotics firm and a veteran-led company from North Carolina are among the winners of this year’s 2024 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge.

Barn Owl Precision Agriculture received a total of $50,000 to grow the business by winning the overall competition. The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, announced the winner from among four finalists at the 2024 American Farm Bureau Convention. Colorado Farm Bureau member Sarah Hinkley, CEO and cofounder of Barn Owl, explains what the company provides.

“We do small farm robots as a service, and they do precision weeding. So, in between the plant weed control, row-based weed control through kind of like an automated hand-held mechanic, and then some precision spraying, some planting, and some harvest support.” 

Hinkley says winning the challenge helps their company grow and help farmers.

“Winning means a lot for us. We will be able to go out and build a few more robots to service more farmers, which is our true and main focus is making sure that we help as many small farmers as possible so they can keep farming next year. We’ve been able to connect with AgLaunch which will be a great support system for our growth and development, many different types of growers who we can utilize to help us continue to build the system in the best way possible.” 

Hinkley encourages other entrepreneurs to consider competing in the challenge next year.

“I would say just keep on keeping on. It is sometimes a long process and the time it takes might not result in a win, but getting to the final ten, and then just being exposed to Farm Bureau and their Ag Innovation Challenge and their platform has been incredible.” 

Udder Ways was named runner-up in the contest and received a total of $20,000.

Secret Garden Bees of Linden, North Carolina, one of the ten semi-finalist teams, won the People’s Choice Award, which is decided by public vote, and received $5,000 in additional prize money. Jim Hartman, a North Carolina member, is team lead for the company, which is a veteran-owned and operated honey farm that helps train veterans seeking to enter agriculture.

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