Purdue startup commercializes soil-mapping technology to improve crops, increase yields

October 22, 2015  


Phillip Owens map

Phillip R. Owens, from left, Purdue University associate professor of agronomy, and doctoral graduate Jenette Ashtekar, compare a soil sample in an auger to a functional soil map on a digital tablet. The function soil mapping technology is being commercialized by Agsoil Analytics, which is using the technology to help farmers improve crop management and yields, by better understanding the functionality of their soil.

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – An agricultural startup is commercializing a Purdue University innovation that could help farmers improve crop management and yields by better understanding how their soil functions.

Agsoil Analytics Inc. was co-founded by Phillip R. Owens, associate professor in Purdue's Department of Agronomy, and Jenette Ashtekar, a postdoctoral research assistant also in the Department of Agronomy. The company has developed a soil-mapping technology that is able to share highly detailed soil information so farmers and producers can develop decisions based on inputs to develop more consistent yields and allow for a more uniform quality product.  

Owens said that current soil-mapping technologies are expensive to develop and are usually made static after one year. 

"What makes our technology unique is that it's less expensive to produce because it's utilizing legacy information for the original version of the map, as well as related processes that we've understood for a very long time," he said. "Once we've made our original map we also will use very directed point sampling for collecting more soil analysis so that we can continue to add more information to the maps and improve them over time. Annually, we will guide producers where to sample to make sure we capitalize on all the information. We make sure every dollar spent on samples and understanding the field is incorporated within the platform."

The Agsoil Analytics functional map technology is able to predict properties like organic carbon content, clay content, the location of water tables, the native nutrient potential, cation exchange capacity and more. It is also able to show categorized information like the highest- and lowest-yielding areas, how much water the soil would store after a rainfall event, and how fast a farmer could expect runoff.

Owens said that farmers and producers will ultimately benefit from the soil-mapping technology. A third party agricultural technology company, however, will deliver the technology through a platform that is compatible to the application of individual farmers.

The company licensed the innovation through the Purdue Research Foundation Office of Technology Commercialization. More than 20 startups based on Purdue intellectual property were launched in the 2015 fiscal year. A video of the technology can be at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7alAHvhBZ9Q.

Agsoil Analytics wants to connect with companies with a large client base that are interested in the stewardship of land as well as the quality and consistency of the product and the sustainability of the producers.

"Our technology has been successful thus far because we developed it with partners who work alongside us to incorporate the technology, working together to make it as beneficial as possible," said Owens. "We'd like to partner with markets outside of the United States as well as farmers with crops beyond corn, soy beans, cotton and nuts."

Agsoil Analytics developed the technology with funding from the USDA and Purdue University.

For information on other Purdue intellectual property ready for licensing and commercialization, visit http://www.otc-prf.org. For more information about available leadership positions, investing in a Purdue startup or licensing a Purdue innovation, visit http://www.purduefoundry.com.

About Agsoil Analytics Inc.
Agsoil Analytics is commercializing a soil-mapping technology that provides high resolution precision soil information showing the functional relationship to plant responses, helping producers and farmers make consistent, high quality products at the highest yield.

About Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization

The Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology transfer programs among leading research universities in the U.S. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities. The office is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2014 Incubator Network of the Year from the National Business Incubation Association for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at foundry@prf.org. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at innovation@prf.org

Purdue Research Park contact:  Hillary Henry, 765-588-3586, hkhenry@prf.org

Steve Martin, 765-588-3342, sgmartin@prf.org 

Sources: Phillip R. Owens, 765-494-0247, prowens@purdue.edu

Jenette Michelle Ashtekar, goodman2@purdue.edu 

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