MagGrow wins Thrive Accelerator Sustainability Award

Gary Wickham, MagGrow
Gary Wickham, MagGrow

Sole Irish entry takes top accelerator prize

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15 July 2016 | 0

An Irish start-up working on a device that uses magnetic fields to minimise waste in crop spraying has been named winner of the Thrive Accelerator Sustainability Award.

Based at NovaUCD, Agricultural Magnetics’ (MagGrow) was one of just 12 companies – and the only from Ireland – selected to participate in the eight-week programme.

The awards ceremony was the culmination of Thrive’s Demo Day on the first morning of the 2016 Forbes AgTech summit. Demo Day, the hallmark event of the Thrive cohort class, provided the participating start-ups the opportunity to showcase their solutions to a broad audience of investors and corporate partners.

Each start-up pitch was scored by executives from Taylor Farms, Land O’Lakes, Western Growers Association, Wells Fargo, JV Smith, SAP, many of whom are a part of the Thrive programme as mentors during the year.

It is estimated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations that 20-40% of global crop output is lost due to plant pests and diseases. Growers combat pests and diseases by spraying herbicide, fungicides and insecticide to improve crop quality and yield.

An unintended consequence of spraying is spray drift, which occurs when application dust or droplets move through the air or soil to an unintended site. Nearby communities, adjacent to crop fields, plants, water supply or other bodies of water, are all impacted by spray applications.

To solve this problem MagGrow has developed a pioneering magnetic spraying technology system which utilises the fact that all living plants and soil have a magnetic field.

Through MagGrow’s technology, which involves the attachment of a series of  magnetic inserts onto a sprayer, an electromagnetic charge is infused into the liquid spray, resulting in targeted attraction and superior coverage of the plant or soil resulting in a reduction of spray drift by over 80%.

Field studies of MagGrow’s technology on commercial farms in The Netherlands, Kenya and Ethiopia demonstrated a reduction in water usage, reduction in disease pressure, increased spray capacity and reduced labour input due to fewer changeovers of the sprayer, and less waste and environmental contamination.

Gary Wickham, CEO, MagGrow, (pictured) said: “It is a great testimony to the dedication of the MagGrow team in the development of our unique technology that has significant transformational benefits for the arable and horticulture sectors.

“The world’s population is estimated to grow to 9 billion by 2050 so the demand for food and water will increase dramatically but by using current farming methods we simply will not be able to meet this demand. But we truly believe that every generation has the right to a sustainable supply of food and water and so we must find better ways to grow and that is why we developed MagGrow.”

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