Growmark has partnered with InnerPlant on a commercial pilot of InnerSoy, the world’s first soybean fungal sensor. InnerPlant genetically engineered plant DNA to fluoresce in response to a plant’s natural distress signals to a fungal infection within 48 to 72 hours. This fluorescent signal is not detectable to the human eye but can be seen via field equipment and satellites.
This process helps farmers reduce losses to pathogens and ultimately protect yields by early identification of stressors. Farmers can then treat the impacted area without having to spray the entire acre or crop. This precision will help streamline chemical use in the field, reducing costs.
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 plants.
“The sentinel plots are an opportunity to introduce our seed technology to Midwest retailers and growers, as well as to improve our agronomic intelligence out in the field,” says Dan Garblik, InnerPlant senior vice president, operations and finance.
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 crop performance.
“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.”
“We believe that Growmark is our ideal partner, as they currently supply farmers with a wealth of trusted advice and data. As we provide Growmark with new information, we are excited to make their agronomic recommendations more timely and valuable,” says Garblik. “We think this can make for a compelling offering to farmers.”
InnerPlant has also partnered with Syngenta and John Deere to further dial in on fungicide management. The ultimate goal of all of these partnerships is to optimize the use of fungicides at the earliest sign of infection and apply only where fungicide is needed.