InnerPlant announces $300K from the United Soybean Board (USB) for the satellite-based detection of crops fluorescing when under stress from pathogens. The funding supports the development, construction and validation of a satellite-mounted device to detect optical signals given off by crops engineered by InnerPlant to fluoresce in response to stress like an attack from pathogens or a lack of water or nutrients.
“Providing data directly from plants at the scale required by modern agriculture will give farmers critical knowledge they need to protect yields while reducing inputs,” says Reza Bloomer, InnerPlant Director of Business Development. “The USB’s support shows their innovative and forward-thinking approach to ensuring that America’s soybean farmers have the best tools possible for their operations.”
The USB is funded by an assessment or “checkoff” collected from the net market price of soybeans and administers coordinated programs for promotion and research, as well as for collecting consumer and industry information related to soybeans.
Studies show that farmers lose as much as 20% of yields or $800B worldwide due to pathogens despite overapplication that sees as much as 30% or $250B of pesticides wasted – negatively impacting our air, water and soil.
Earlier detection and more responsive, plant-specific interventions offer a way to prevent waste and losses but historically farmers lacked early actionable data. Satellite-based detection provides a scalable way to give farmers the early warning they need to better care for crops and soils.
“The soybean checkoff is designed to advance the industry and help farmers improve their soybean operations,” says Nancy Kavazanjian, a USB volunteer farmer director. “The ability to detect crop pest stress from space as much as weeks before any stress is visible to the human eye is an innovation that will deliver massively on those goals by helping us grow our soybeans more efficiently and sustainably.”
The InnerPlant imaging device is scheduled to launch in Q1 of 2024 and its deployment will mark the first time in history that a signal from a human-engineered organism is detected from orbit. In addition to supporting the launch, USB funds will also support additional related activities including field testing to validate orbital detection, procuring imagery from other public and private satellite operators and post-processing of signals. The entire suite of activities will culminate in the clear demonstration of satellite-based detection of human-made crop signals for the first time in history.