DES MOINES — An app that helps farmers connect with elevators for price information, contracts and scale tickets won $20,000 in the Ag Innovation Pitch Competition at the Iowa Power Farming Show Jan. 31.
“This is the information that matters” in the harvest rush, said Jake Joraanstad, co-founder and CEO of Myriad Mobile, a Fargo, N.D.-based company, as he pitched his company’s Bushel app to contest judges and show visitors.
He vied for the award in a competition presented by Farm Credit Services of America in collaboration with Advantage Capital, Figured, Innova, Iowa AgriTech Accelerator, Koch Ag & Energy Solutions, Midwest Growth Partners and Open Prairie.
In addition to the $20,000 prize, the competition awarded a $5,000 prize to the audience favorite, SmartAg, which provides technology for driverless tractors.
Co-ops and other grain elevators employ the Bushel app, and farmers use the system without paying Bushel.
With elevators that offer the service, farmers can sign up to get texts on prices. They also can use the system to check cash bids, futures and basis. And they can sign contracts on their phones and receive digital scale tickets, so they don’t have to worry about lost tickets.
About 6,000 U.S. and Canadian farmers already use the system at their elevators through 25 companies that have signed up for the service, including Landus cooperative in Iowa, Joraanstad said.
Myriad Mobile has been in business about six years and has been offering services for agriculture for three years.
“Finding qualified labor on a farm is a huge challenge,” Colin Hurd, founder and CEO of SmartAg, said in his ag innovation pitch.
His company won the $5,000 award at the event as the favorite of the audience.
Farmers have turned to larger, faster equipment to reduce their labor needs, but they still need equipment operators. Using a driverless tractor to pull a grain cart is one way to fill a labor need at harvest.
Hurd said his company’s technology is simple to set up and use. A fully autonomous grain cart tractor using the technology will move within field boundaries and doesn’t run over crop that hasn’t been harvested.
The technology is compatible with most recent John Deere tractors, he said, and the company aims to develop it for AGCO and CNH tractors.
More tech tools
Four other ag tech startups pitched their services in the competition.
AgriSync provides an app that connects farmers to product and service providers. The app enables an advisor to provide “live, video-based support that works with any device,” said Casey Nieman of AgriSync. He said more than 150 companies in the U.S., Canada and other countries use the app.
Tractor Zoom offers a mobile app that provides searchable information on equipment auctions. Founder and CEO Kyle McMahon said auctioneers pay to list auctions on the site, and farmers can download and use the app free of charge.
The AgHelp app is designed to help farmers find workers, said co-founder Sadoc Paredes.
“We grew up as migrant farm workers” and saw a need to connect workers with employers, he said.
Employers complete profiles and can post jobs, and workers can use the app free of charge to search for jobs and worker services.
Heavyworth uses data on equipment values in an app to help producers and lenders identify the value of farm equipment, said Dusty Reynolds, company founder. He said the information helps bankers be more confident in the value of a farm customer’s equipment. Bankers pay Heavyworth for the service.