GROWMARK, Inc. has partnered with InnerPlant on a commercial pilot of InnerSoy, the world’s first soybean fungal sensor.
InnerPlant genetically engineers plants to emit optical signals when the plants are stressed from a lack of water or nutrients, or under attack from pathogens, like fungi. Using specialized equipment such as drones or satellites to detect the plant’s signals, farmers get the earliest possible warning to take action to protect their crops.
The program will establish a number of sentinel plots located near production soybean farms to provide precision scouting and improved agronomic intelligence.
“GROWMARK’s focus on providing farmers with the tools they need to efficiently and sustainably feed the world makes them an ideal partner for our in-field pilot,” explains Dan Garblik, InnerPlant’s Senior Vice President of Operations and Finance. “Working with their experts will help us explore ways we can provide value to their farmer customers, as well as understand and optimize real-world operations.”
GROWMARK will establish small plots of InnerSoy throughout the Midwest in 2024 with plans to expand the number of plots over the next three years. Located near existing soybean farms, the plots will be used to detect early signs of fungal infestation in the plants. The data generated from the pilot plots will be used in InnerPlant’s machine-learning tools to improve agronomic intelligence to help protect and improve the performance of farmers’ crops.
“Farmers face a tremendous amount of risk every year,” said GROWMARK Chief Operating Officer Wade Mittelstadt. “This pilot gives GROWMARK and our FS cooperatives the first ag retail access to InnerPlant’s cutting-edge technology developed to help farmers manage crop health risk.” Dr. Jeff Bunting, GROWMARK vice president of crop protection, added, “We’re excited to understand more about InnerPlant’s capability to tap directly into plant physiology, giving crop specialists and farmers critical data they need to mitigate disease pressure as early as possible.”
Data gathered during the sentinel program will demonstrate the value of early detection and early action of InnerSoy that will enable plant-by-plant management.