Eden Concepts, an agricultural technology start-up based in Knoxville, has been awarded a $100,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to design, develop, test and deliver a product to reduce labor and production costs for small and mid-sized farmers.
According to Founder Walter Cromer, the federal funding will enable the development of an innovative portable precision fluid drill for planting seeds that will improve productivity and reduce energy compared to the current method of growing and planting transplants for high-value crops. The low-cost system, which will eliminate the expensive and labor-consuming transplant process, can be used in fields, greenhouses or pots or be adapted to plant microgreens. When commercially deployed, the envisioned system can be used by vegetable, flower, medicinal herb and specialty crop growers worldwide, and this technology can also be adapted for use in larger, automated mechanical planting systems.
The product will be designed, developed, tested and delivered in three phases over the next 18 months. Small and mid-sized farmers who wish to be part of the product development process can contact Eden Concepts directly at email@example.com or by phone at 865/719-5327.
Cromer was a participant in the 2018 edition of the “AgLaunch Bootcamp” hosted by the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center and Memphis-based AgLaunch where he worked on the idea. In an email exchange, Cromer confirmed that the technology “is part of a multi-level product strategy aimed at all growers of vegetables, flowers and specialty crops. Ultimately we plan to meet the needs of homeowners to large commercial growers. We’re focusing on the center right now with a solution to help small and mid-size growers.”