Field Prophet for Risk Prediction

Diseases can cause devasting losses in corn, soybean and turf management.
fields. . With limited genetic resistance to manage these diseases, growers need a method to predict if and when to apply costly plant protection like fungicides.

Past predictive tools have provided less than desired accuracy and growers are in need of new, accurate, and accessible solutions.

The value of using accurate risk prediction tools is the avoidance of profit robbing yield loss or ineffectively using a chemical application strategy.

The Innovation: Field Prophet, Inc. smartphone software incorporates new weather-based crop disease risk prediction models for U.S. corn and soybean growers. This software-based tool will use a smartphone with an internet connection to read the local weather conditions and
determine when weather conditions in a field are conducive for infection by corn or soybean pathogens, thus providing farmers with insights to protect their crops health in the most efficient manner. Rather than let the new research tools stay in the laboratory and slowly starve from diminishing funding, the team is building toward commercial viability with the creation of their
new business and new software.
Farmer quotes:
• “Tar spot of corn has continued to spread in Minnesota. This disease was found in Minnesota for the first time in four counties in 2019. In 2020, it has been confirmed in 11 counties in southeastern Minnesota..”.
• “I look at an app as an educational tool just as much as a predictive tool,” a Wisconsin farmer says. “Once you feel comfortable with an app, you return to it quite often.”

Broader Impacts:

• Increasing the economic competitiveness of the United States by addressing a major
issue with crop viability (fungal infestation). Using Field Prophet’s new tool, US
farmers will be able to be more productive overall by turning the unpredictable nature
of weather into a powerful scientific ally on their farms.
• Field Prophet’s innovation will allow US (and, eventually, global) soybean and corn
farmers to become more productive using the land that they are already cultivating,
allowing us to preserve more wild spaces and avoiding deforestation of new
croplands. It will also assist with helping to feed tomorrow’s expected population
increases.
• Software innovation by applying cutting edge development methodologies to an area
of science where it was sorely needed. Dr. Smith used to spend almost one week in
his lab waiting on weather data and field reports when testing new crop risk models.
Using the alpha software the Field Prophet team created, Dr. Smith could
accomplish the same research goals in under a minute on a smartphone. Speeding
up research and bringing research out of the lab and into farmer’s hands is at the
heart of this innovation.
• Advancing of the health and welfare of the American public by helping to reduce the
number and types of chemicals used in farming and turf management. Field prophet innovations help keep
chemicals out of the environment by ensuring that fungicide sprays are only used
when necessary or effective.
• Enhancing partnerships between academia and industry in the United States. These
products represents academic breakthroughs that are being commercialized by a
small business. Academia is sometimes too quick to drop research results and move
on to the next grant opportunity before exploring industry partnerships. Many
research grants, which provide the lifeblood of university labs, only want to see new
topics explored. When industry comes to a university seeking out new research
innovations, quite often the lab has had to move on to the next grant topic.
• Improving public scientific literacy and engagement with science and technology in
the United States. Farmers will see a direct monetary benefit from trusting science as
it is expressed in the apps, which will expand overall trust in scientific practices in a
broad-ranging group of people. Farmers are very knowledgeable in the art of
growing, and the United States benefits from their experience and dedication.
Innovations like the new Field Prophet software and its deep background in research
are helping farmers apply new research on a daily basis in the field.