Test Farms is a programme, in which we help startups with agricultural solutions to find open-minded farmers to test the newest innovations on the field. In this way, entrepreneurs can test the functionality and market need, while European farmers have access to the newest innovations, which can save their resources and contribute to more healthy and sustainable food production.
Each year, the programme admits 15 startups and helps them to find their test partner across Eastern and Southern European countries. Test Farms team scouts for solutions that not only optimise different practices and processes in agriculture but also contribute to more sustainable, healthy and trusted food production. After careful selection of innovative solutions, EIT Food looks for the right farmers in terms of crop, soil, climate or automation level on the farm. During match-making events, entrepreneurs and farmers meet each other and draft the plan of the testing phase, which can last up to one year. Startups and farmers are supported throughout the process by expert agricultural advisors. EIT Food promotes innovation among potential customers and interested stakeholders and invites them to the final part of the programme - Demo Day, where innovators can explain the product, show results and test it with clients and investors.
During first days of June, EIT Food team had a chance to spend two exciting days on the field at Ullmanna’s Demo Day, 2020 programme participant. Czech team has invented and tested its robotic Intra row non-chemical weeding machine, which can instantly recognize and remove unwanted weeds from the sugar beetroot field, thanks to AI features. Test and the Demo Day were organised at the farm of Mr Jeremiasz, managing almost 800ha of carrots, beetroot and wheat in Samborowice, Poland. More than 15 interested clients joined the showcase, including local farmers, representatives of the Association of Polish Beetroot Producers and sugar processing plant Südzucker. Participants had a chance to see the solution in action, talk to the founders and get direct feedback from the farmer testing the solution on his premises. Participants have agreed on the advantages of the solution - saving farmer's time, solving the limited workforce issue and most importantly confirmed it has a great potential to minimise the use of pesticides in agriculture and thus contribute to more healthy and sustainable food production.
The recruitment for the 2021 cohort of Test Farms has just finished and new innovations we will be testing in real condition include natural biostimulants, which can support the growth of the plants and protect it from pathogens, sensors helping farmers to optimise the yield, robots used for the harvest of fruits and vegetables or enzybiotics – enzyme-based non-antibiotic therapeutics. Stay tuned for more news from the field!