From the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research:
NEW YORK and WASHINGTON (June 6, 2019) – Soil health research is critical to preserving the environment and increasing farmer yields and profitability. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and FoodShot Global awarded GroundBreaker Prizes to three individuals conducting trailblazing research that improves soil health and enhances soil management practices. FFAR contributed $110,000, which was matched by partner organizations for a total prize award of $535,000.
This year’s inaugural Foodshot Global Challenge, Innovating Soil 3.0, recognizes rising scientific stars whose research supports a soil system capable of supporting ten billion people. Foodshot Global winners have identified technological and ecological tools that enable farmers to optimize yields and the long-term health of the land. Through this prize, all three recipients receive guidance, mentorship and resources to maximize the impact and scale of their research.
“Soil health is at the root of an agricultural system capable of supporting a growing global population,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR’s executive director. “This type of innovative research is needed to revolutionize global soil health. FFAR is proud to be part of this competition and to support this year’s winners.”
The GroundBreaker Prize was awarded to Dr. Keith Paustian, Dr. Gerlinde de Devn and Dr. Dorn Cox:
Dr. Paustian received a $250,000 GroundBreaker Prize to accelerate the global adaptation of his COMET-Farm tool systems. This specialized technology provides sustainability metrics that inform land management decisions and promote regenerative and conservation-based agricultural practices. These tools are increasingly used in the United States at the federal level to support conservation programs, at the state level to support soil health and carbon management policies, and by industry partners. Dr. Paustian aims to adapt the COMET systems to agricultural regions around the globe.
Dr. Gerlinde de Devn received a $250,000 GroundBreaker Prize to determine soil components that enhance plant productivity, allow for better absorption of nutrients, suppress disease and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Dr. de Devn’s research develops models that predict how plants engage with their environments, allowing researchers to efficiently produce nutritious food without stressing the environment.
Dr. Dorn Cox was also awarded a $35,000 GroundBreaker “Seed” Prize to support his ambitious vision of using Open TEAM to collect environmental data, providing access to comprehensive global agricultural knowledge to help growers make sustainable and profitable farm management decisions. Open TEAM, a technology ecosystem that leverages existing global open-source hardware and software, is in the development phase and aims to advance soil health through community learning and aggregating best agricultural practices. The GroundBreaker Prize will increase the capacity of Open TEAM by incorporating on-the-ground technology support and extending outreach to other open source communities around the world.
“I founded FoodShot Global envisioning a new way to harness the power of innovation, capital, and the collaborative spirit of the world’s leading stakeholders to effect change,” said Chairman and Founder of FoodShot Global Victor Friedberg. “We chose to start with soil because any future that imagines 10 billion people eating healthy and sustainably with equal access will require healthy soil. The three people we announced today are all groundbreakers whose inspired work lays the foundation for the next generation of solutions to the urgency we now face as a civilization. I couldn’t be more impressed and inspired by these inaugural FoodShot Global award winners and look forward to sharing what they’re doing with a larger audience.”
FoodShot Global received 176 GroundBreaker Prize nominations from six continents and over 40 countries. These winners were judged by investors based on core criteria including their alignment with FoodShot Global’s mission of creating a healthier, more sustainable, more equitable food system; their connection to the Innovating Soil 3.0 challenge, the global relevance of their work, their ability to realize growth and scale, and their likelihood of facilitating future innovation and systemic change.