Woodland-based incubator aids ag-tech startups

By Kevin Hecteman
Issue Date: August 28, 2019
Ag Alert
There’s a bumper crop of ideas growing in Woodland—from measuring a plant’s water needs to fighting nefarious pests to streamlining markets.
He’s not the only one who made a transcontinental move. Pheronym, launched in Florida, settled in Yolo County to perfect its idea of using nematode pheromones as a means of pest control.”It was the right ag location, the right talent pool from UC Davis, and they had internships,” Fatma Kaplan, Pheronym chief executive and the technology’s developer, told the attendees, noting that AgStart has been a big help as well.“Two years ago, we had an idea,” Kaplan said. “Now, we have a proven technology.Keep Reading


If you missed Dr. Kaplan’ s talk about Pheronym’s technology, you have a second chance. See below link to listen.


Farming in Space

Future of Agriculture Podcast Host Tim Hammerich interviewed Dr. Ray Wheeler who is a NASA’s Plant Physiologist and the lead for Advanced Life Support Research activities in the Exploration Research and Technology Program at Kennedy Space Center.

An artist concept depicts a greenhouse on the surface of Mars.

Listen to Future of Agriculture, interview with Dr. Wheeler “Farming in Space“.
Here are some of Dr. Wheeler’s research which he talks about in this podcast.

You can also listen to the podcast at PlayerFM, Applepodcasts

        • The research he’s conducted that has made it in today’s agriculture industry.
        • How NASA helped in terrestrial applications of space farming.
        • His recent projects that could be applied commercially in the future.
        • Solving the ever-increasing CO2 emissions with space farming tech.
        • Recent progress on the experimental planting chambers in space.
        • Deciding which crops show promise for space production.
        • The water content of Mars and the prospect of someday growing food there.
        • The critical benefits of being able to grow plants in space.
        • Recovering as much water as possible in space.
        • The effects of low gravity environments on plant growth.
        • His advice for people interested in space farming technology.

Read more

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Pheromones Give Nematodes a Boost in Controlling Pests

By Sandra Avant, July 25, 2019

Beneficial nematodes emerge from an infected insect hostA recent Agricultural Research Service (ARS) study, published in The Journal of Invertebrate Pathology, shows that beneficial nematodes (also called entomopathogenic nematodes) treated with pheromone extracts are more effective at killing an economically important insect—the pecan weevil—as well as the black soldier fly.

The pecan weevil is a major pecan pest in the Southeast as well as in Texas and Oklahoma, said David Shapiro-Ilan, an entomologist at the ARS Southeastern Fruit and Tree Nut Research Laboratory in Byron, Georgia.  If left uncontrolled, it can reduce crop production up to 70 percent.

An advantage of using beneficial nematodes is that they are safe for humans and the environment and target only specific insects, Shapiro-Ilan said.

In earlier research, Shapiro-Ilan and his colleagues discovered that pheromones produced by beneficial nematodes direct their behavior—telling them to disperse or infect insects. With that in mind, they sought ways to use pheromones to enhance nematodes’ behavior to kill more insect pests.

Since then, ARS has established a cooperative research agreement with Pheronym, an ag-biotech pest control company that develops and produces nematode pheromones that can be used to direct beneficial nematode behavior. Keep Reading

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