AgroSpheres

Own the Harvest

We developed a technology for degrading pesticides to make the harvesting process safer and more lucrative for hard working farmers.

Use Case

Our friend Bill Tonkins, manager of Veritas Winery, works hard all year long to protect the grapes at his vineyard from the threat of pests. To do this, he must use pesticides. Bill understands that pesticides pose a contamination risk to the environment as well as a health risk to the farmers and consumers of his produce. Additionally, farmers must wait for federally regulated intervals after spraying pesticides before they can harvest in order for the pesticides to naturally degrade. This limits the flexibility of Bill’s harvest and leads to crop loss during environmental fluctuations. By spraying his crops with our product an hour before he is ready to harvest, Bill can boost his crop yield, ensure the safety of his workers, and guarantee that his grapes contain no residual pesticides.

Potential

Pesticide exposure is harmful to farmers and to consumers. According to data from the EPA, 20,000 US farmers are poisoned by pesticides each year (1). WHO estimates that each year there are several millions of cases of pesticide poisoning and an estimated 370,000 deaths (2). By removing residual pesticides, we would improve the health of field workers and consumers by reducing their exposure through direct contact with pesticides. The use of our product also mitigates the risk of pesticides contaminating the environment, as it degrades pesticides into their environmentally friendly, non-toxic by-products. Our technology is a cost-efficient, scalable solution to degrading pesticides. We envision the large scale implementation of our technology to reduce the toxicity of pesticides worldwide.

Business Case

The use of pesticides costs the US $4B a year due to contamination of produce, the environment, and pesticide poisonings (3). Farmers can significantly reduce these costs by using our technology with their existing spraying equipment. We have fostered relationships with 10 local vineyards and 1 orchard; they have signed letters of intent and offered their fields for testing. Other than selling directly to farmers, we can pursue a co-branding approach with pesticide companies to utilize their well-established distribution channels. We have successfully prototyped for the organophosphate class of pesticides which makes up an annual $800M addressable market. In coordination with the FDA, EPA, and USDA, we are currently streamlining our regulatory pathway through the Food Additive Division.

Objectives:

  1. Revolutionize the way farmers harvest crops by having them implement our spray in the harvest cycle of fruits, rice, and other crops.
  2. A new standard for the safety and cleanliness of produce by selling produce with a “pesticide-residue-free” label.
  3. Using our product to mitigate the environmental contamination risk posed by the large scale use of pesticides.

Team AgroSpheres

Charlottesville, United States of America

Solving Tomorrow's Problems / Published January 11, 2017 by Sepehr Zomorodi

Solving Tomorrow's Problems

https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/newsletter/inventors-eye/solving-tomorrows-problems

Check out the Newest Piece about Agrospheres! Published by Iventors Eye, the USPTO's publication for the independent inventors community.

Here are the References we Used for Our Pitch / Published January 11, 2017 by Sepehr Zomorodi

Here are the References we Used for Our Pitch

1.Farmworker Justice. (2013). Exposed and Ignored: How Pesticides are Endangering our Farm workers. Retrieved from: https://www.farmworkerjustice.org//sites
2. World Health Association. (2015). WHO Chemical Safety- Activity Report 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/ipcs/IPCS_ActivityReport2015.pdf?ua=1
3.Pimentel, D. (2005). Environmental and Economic Costs of the Application of Pesticides Primarily in the United States. Environment, Development and Sustainability. 7: 229-252.

Results for our First Field Test! / Published January 11, 2017 by Sepehr Zomorodi

Results for our First Field Test!

Malathion is a commonly used, but toxic pesticide. It usually takes weeks for it to naturally degrade on its own. For our first field test, we completely degraded all the Malathion on the plant in less than 3 hours!

The AgroSpheres team at the field! / Published January 11, 2017 by Sepehr Zomorodi

The AgroSpheres team at the field!

We successfully tested our pesticide degrading prototype at a local vineyard.

Agrospheres are 1st place Winners of the Collegiate Inventors Competition!

Our Team

Our Mission

Our mission is to significantly reduce the impact of chemicals such as pesticides in our world, especially in developing countries. Our hard working farmers deserve to work in safer environments.

Our Background

Our dedicated team of undergraduates from the University of Virginia is committed to making agriculture a safer profession.

Our Badges

  • Power Team
    Your team has at least three members
  • Design Lab Experts
    Attended at least one of the weekly TFF Design Lab “office hours” sessions.
  • We Famous
    Your project has been covered by your university or other media outlet
  • Get #Social
    Created team Facebook or Twitter page and attached to team page
  • Fan Club
    You have 100 likes or followers on your team Facebook or Twitter
  • Interior Architect
    Posted three pictures of your team workspace
  • Idea Parkers
    Shared a picture of your teams unique “idea parking”
  • Global Foodies
    Posted three facts about global food issues learned in the Explore mode
  • Insight + Insight + Insight
    Shared three new insights your team formulated in the Define mode
  • On Time, On Target
    Shared your Design Statement created during the Define mode
  • Post-it Fiends
    Shared pics of the chaos of the post-it filled Ideate work mode
  • Brain Food
    In the Ideate intro video, Richard shares an important tip while eating an apple. Share a team-apple-eating pic!
  • Expert Input
    Shared three pieces of expert feedback on your concept
  • GIF Masters
    Shared a GIF of the prototype building frenzy
  • Live Testing
    Shared a video of a user testing your concept
  • Way To Go
    Shared a picture of your plan for iterating your project
  • Etch-A-Sketch
    Shared your logo sketching session on your team blog
  • WE DID IT!!
    Submitted Final Pitch, including videos and concept details
The information contained here represents student project ideas developed as the result of brainstorming activities during Round 1 of the TFF Challenge. It does not represent any final business plans or commercial products.