Technology introduction to agriculture – revolutionary herbicides

The Montana Department of Agriculture introduced an inaugural Montana Ag-Tech Innovation and Investment Summit.

The kick-off event is intended to advance agriculture.

A full-day event on January 24, 2023 with guest speakers, networking opportunities and a Shark Tank-style pitch arena.

A stack of applicants narrowed down to 10 finalists – ready to deliver a 60 second elevator pitch for industry leaders and potential investors.

David Sands and Claire Sands Baker were one of ten finalists – a father-daughter duo.

“I have to say now is the time,” said David.

“This is actually our start day,” Claire added.

Claire Sands Baker is CEO and co-founder of Kuvu Bio Solutions, a biological herbicide company. Her father, David, is a former professor at Montana State University in the Department of Plant Science and Plant Pathology.

“A plant cell is very similar to a computer. It has to make a hundred decisions a minute. This allows it to throw out certain genes that aren’t efficient, and that becomes a weakness. If you understand how computers work, plants work the same way.’ Sands briefly explained the science.

The science they work with is different from what is used today.

The chemical herbicide industry makes $35 billion a year. Synthetic herbicides.

The science the Sands duo are working on is taking herbicide-resistant weeds and using plant biology and fungi to defeat them. Something the two piloted in Kenya, Africa.

“It is very important to understand where the farmers come from. The product developed there is therefore Human Centered Design. Women farmers, smallholders plant with their hands. We had to find a way to distribute this product that would work with them. We will do the same when developing products in the United States,” said Klara.

The research the two found in Kenya focuses on food security in developing countries.

What it can do for farmers in the United States is fight evolution with evolution.

“…let’s let the fungus do what it’s been doing for a million years,” explained Dr. Sands, “Just rely on the fungus, on its own biology, and give it a little boost. This is new technology. It’s a new way of thinking and farmers love it.”

The insights and career of Dr. Sands as trainers extend well beyond his daughter’s company. Competing against Kuvu Bio Solutions is a former student, Morteza Hosseinnejad, co-founder of Aizy Tech. Hosseinnejad is a mechanical engineer who was encouraged by a friend to attend a lecture given by Dr. Sands to attend. After this experience, attending his course was a must.

“I would say he’s one of the reasons we’re here today because the classes he taught were amazing and he said, ‘Go out and do your research.'”

She inspired his students and daughter, and along with the others, delivered the 60-second elevator pitch. The results showed that Kuvu Bio Solutions did not end up in the money.

Experience itself is what scientists needed to advance into the future.

“We also have some really big things in the pipeline for the Kenya project. All of that will lead to more success because these are global agri-tech awards,” Claire shared.

Great feedback and some crowd favorites who understood the innovation.

Third prize went to 406 Agronomy for its Augmenta technology, which received $10,000.

In second place was receiving $15,000 Aiz Tech for its Whitehawk drone and robotics technology.

The grand prize of $25,000 went to Montana State University for their research into durum wheat.

The Sands duo have developed a closer relationship through their studies and Africa and started a new program. Despite the outcome of his elevator pitch, the effort to change is the most valuable.

“I’m proud of her because she’s trying to do something that has never been done before. I am with her whether she succeeds or not.”

Visit www.toothpickproject.org for Kuvu Bio Solutions’ African research project.

Questions or comments about this article? Email the reporter at [email protected].


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