Cargill, The Maschhoffs and WeWork FoodLabs have now joined The Yield Lab Institute to sponsor and advise the Manure Challenge.
The Manure Challenge is a startup competition for innovative manure-management technologies and products. The Challenge focuses on increasing collaboration among established industry companies and experts and the selected startup companies. Selected companies will compete for a cash prize, and an open-sourced model quantifying the correlation between investment and environmental impact for manure management technologies will be produced. Organized by The Yield Lab Institute with guidance from World Wildlife Fund, Newtrient and the Dairy Farmers of America, the Manure Challenge brings together the expertise of many eminent public, for profit and non-for-profit leaders from a wide variety of backgrounds to support interest and investment in the manure management sector.
The advisory and mentorship network includes: Joseph Ziobro with the U.S. Enivronmental Protection Agency, Rod Larkins with Agricultural Utilization Research Institute, Kraig Westerbeek with Smithfield, Jonathan Hua with Thrive Accelerator, Aaron Ratner with Ultra Capital LLC, Evan Fraser with the Arrell Food Institute, Ben Gaddy with the Clean Energy Trust and Fidan Karimova with the Water Research Foundation.
“We are excited to team up with The Yield Lab Institute on the Manure Challenge to help drive innovation and spur investment to address this critical challenge,” says Heather Tansey, sustainability lead for Cargill’s global animal nutrition and protein groups. “Together we can deliver meaningful solutions that improve productivity and profitability while minimizing our environmental footprint.”
“Innovative financing mechanisms and technologies are bringing industrial-scale solutions to commercial livestock manure management. These circular economy strategies, which efficiently upcycle otherwise wasted energy and potentially environmentally harmful nutrients, will support an industry-wide transition to a more sustainable and profitable business model,” says Ratner, managing director for Ultra Capital LLC.
A total of 63 applications were collected in May; those applications are now in review by a committee of advisors drawn from stakeholders, experts and partners to evaluate the potential impact and scope of each applicant’s offering. In late August, six to 10 companies will be selected to participate in the challenge.
Programming for the selected companies will kick off in early September in Manhattan, Kan., adjacent to the annual meeting of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock.
One adviser and the director of Dairy at the World Wildlife Fund, Sandra Vijn, outlines the importance of the manure challenge, “WWF's goal is to drive sustainable food systems to conserve nature and feed humanity. Closing nutrient loops on farms can help reduce environmental impacts. More innovation, research, development and investment is needed to advance manure management solutions.”