One of the greatest problems confronting farmers today is how to control plant disease and pests while minimizing environmental impact and remaining profitable. When synthetic chemical pesticides were first developed in the early 20th century, they were embraced as a less harmful solution to the highly toxic inorganic chemicals (sulfur, lead and arsenic) that humans had been using to kill insects on their crops for the past 4,500 years. However, evidence pointing to the environmental damage and adverse human health effects caused by the synthetic chemical pesticides that fueled the Green Revolution continues to mount.
AgraQuest, a biotechnology company that develops biological and low-chemical pest management products, believes that it has the solution: Biopesticides.
“In order for a sustainable farm to exist you need to have a sustainable business.” – Benzi Ronen, CEO and Founder of Farmigo.
About three years ago Benzi Ronen launched Farmigo, a technology startup that develops software that allows organic farmers to more efficiently manage their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and Farm Direct sales operations. Ronen has a technology background and prior to Farmigo, he spent 14 years building internet systems for large multi-national companies around the world.
Most agricultural experiments last anywhere from a few months to a few years, but at Russell Ranch near Davis, CA, researchers are in the midst of a 100-year study measuring the sustainability of various farming systems.
The study, known as Long-Term Research on Agricultural Systems (LTRAS), is designed to measure the long-term impact of different cropping systems, irrigation practices, tillage methods and carbon and nitrogen inputs on agricultural sustainability. It was started with a grant from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program in 1990.
Venture investment in agriculture startup companies is not yet commonplace, but J.M. “Jim” Schultz, Founder and Managing Partner at Effingham, Illinois-based Open Prairie Ventures, believes wholeheartedly that it soon will be. So as to be a front runner and not a follower, in 2008, Open Prairie Venture’s launched one of the first early stage venture capital funds (OPV II, LP) to invest primarily in agriculture technology startups.
From May 23 – 25, visionary female leaders in the fields of sustainable agriculture and food systems development will convene at the Johnson Foundation at Wingspread for the Cultivate 2012 Summit. The summit, co-sponsored by The White House Project, Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) and Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN), will focus on the development of strategies for growing the sustainable agriculture movement in the US.