First Round of Farmer-Driven Innovation Trials Announced

20:57PM May 21, 2018

AgLaunch and the Tennessee Department of Agriculture announce the first seven farmer-led projects connecting farmers with pre-commercial technology for field testing. These projects are part of the AgLaunch strategy to attract, start, and grow new agricultural startup companies to and in Tennessee by connecting them with local farmers, while simultaneously helping farmers access new technology and market opportunities. The program is supported by Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

“This is a significant step forward in the mission to test new ag technologies in the real world, right on the farm,” Agriculture Commissioner Jai Templeton said. “Given the tremendous response and interest from Tennessee farmers, we believe this first round of trials is just the beginning. This program is strengthening the state’s reputation as an ideal location to develop innovations in agriculture.”

This program is developed through the AgLaunch Farmer Network and the Model Farm program coordinated by AgLaunch. The AgLaunch Farmer Network is a group of farmers from across Tennessee who are testing new innovations and participating in new marketing approaches to highlight progressive work on their farms. The Model Farm program is made up of a select group of farms which serve as centralized hubs to demonstrate new innovations and technologies at Field Days and other events. 

Field trial demonstrations are scattered throughout Tennessee focusing on at-risk and distressed counties as a way of attracting new innovation and technology into those areas.

“Tennessee farmers are leading the region in creating a network of progressive farmers to help startup companies de-risk their technologies, while addressing major problems in agriculture,” said Pete Nelson, President and Executive Director of AgLaunch.

The following field-trial projects are currently underway with the following farms and agtech companies:

  • Kilimo (, which helps farmers make better irrigation decisions, is conducting a multi-site trial comparing pivot irrigation management between Kilimo’s solution and existing methods. Participating farms include Sneed Brothers Farm, Growing Acres, Norwood Farms, and D&J River Farms.
  • Rose Creek Farms ( is piloting several technologies to facilitate more sustainable and economic production of vegetables including tomatoes and leafy greens on their organic farm in McNairy County.
  • MicroBiometer ( has a quick and inexpensive way to test for microbial activity in soil. This summer’s trials will test the MicroBiometer system on cover crops and organic agriculture. Participating farms include Sneed Brothers Farm, D&J River Farms, Rose Creek Farms, Batey Farms, and Yeargin Farms.
  • Norwood Farms is working with GroGuru ( to field test a monitoring system for irrigation recommendations that has been scaled in vegetables and is expanding into row crops.
  • EarthSense ( is testing an under-canopy plant phenotyping robot in field conditions to begin developing additional crop scouting and production practice applications specifically targeting herbicide-resistant weeds. Participating farms include Mid-South Family Farms and Jonah Brannon/Brannon Farms.
  • Tosh Farms based in Henry County with farming operations throughout Tennessee and Kentucky is partnering with startup SwineTech ( to run a major trial focused on reducing infant mortality in swine operations.
  • Yeargin Farms is leading an effort with Growing Acres Farms to collect data for WISRAN (, measuring time variations for farm management practices.
  • The management of these trials will be facilitated by another startup, AgriSync (, which simplifies communication between companies, technicians, and their farmer customers.

Participants in the Model Farm program will be hosting a series of Field Days and demonstration programs to showcase technologies and to share best marketing practices. These events are open to farmers, food companies, agribusiness professionals, investors, entrepreneurs, and industry stakeholders.

The first Field Day will be held on August 2, 2018, at Growing Acres Farm in Savannah, Tennessee from 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. followed by lunch. If you would like more information, please email [email protected]

The AgLaunch Farmer Network program is open to all farmers. Interested farmers apply online here and are reviewed by an independent panel of experts in agriculture. Candidates selected for the Farmer Network are proven leaders already driving change in their communities. The Farmer Network is intentionally focused on recruiting a group of farms with diversity in size, crops farmed, livestock raised, and farming techniques. Members of the Farmer Network are eligible to participate in field-scale trials with collaborating agricultural startups and participate in a cost share program to offset the costs.