The AgLaunch Initiative (“AgLaunch”), a leading agricultural entrepreneurship supporting organization and accelerator, has selected Vulpes Agricultural Corp. (“Vulpes”) into its Row Crop Challenge.
AgLaunch’s Row Crop Challenge is an annual agricultural startup challenge in collaboration with Farm Journal. Now in its third year, the Row Crop Challenge selects top entrepreneurial projects to improve sustainable agricultural production and provide novel solutions to industrial needs. AgLaunch, along with its mentors and farmer network, offers a unique opportunity for startups to engage their end users – farmers. Farmers are involved throughout the AgLaunch process, including selecting candidates, offering inputs on how entrepreneurs can appeal to and work with farmers, and collaborating with entrepreneurs on trials based on real farming conditions. Through the deep involvement of farmers, AgLaunch helps startups better understand the needs and concerns of the farming community and accelerate the adoption of their technologies.
Vulpes, a St. Louis manufacturing R&D startup, is chosen in the Row Crop Challenge from its national search, because of its Carbon Black Acid (internal product name) technology. Vulpes recognizes that while fertilizer usage has more than quadrupled in the past 50 years, nutrient use efficiency has roughly remained the same. In many countries, more than 50% of the fertilizer usage is wasted – not taken up by plants or retained in the soil, but just lost to the environment and causing major environmental challenges. Vulpes believes that, in addition to better fertilization and soil management, farmers need a direct mechanism that target-delivers nutrients and water inside plants. For this reason, in collaboration with 15 research and agricultural extension teams across 10 U.S. research institutions, Vulpes develops Carbon Black Acid, a fertilizer and seed additive that can improve plants’ nutrient and water uptake by up to 200%, reduce fertilizer loss and its environmental impact, and reduce fertilizer expenditure by farmers.
In addition to Carbon Black Acid, Vulpes manufactures many other novel and improved agrochemicals. Since its founding in 2019, Vulpes has developed extensive academic and corporate partnerships to utilize its manufacturing R&D capacities. It is currently developing a novel manufacturing process, using local industrial by-products, to bring down the cost of RNA pesticide by potentially up to 90%. It is also working with multiple multinational companies to onshore their agricultural input manufacturing away from Asia. By building business with local suppliers – both big and small – and by developing innovative manufacturing processes, Vulpes is making agricultural input manufacturing in the U.S. more competitive.
The selection into Row Crop Challenge provides a much-needed opportunity for Vulpes’s entrepreneurial endeavors. Vulpes is a manufacturing R&D company that can benefit enormously from the feedback and inputs directly from its potential end users. Rick Shang, CEO of Vulpes, hopes Vulpes can develop lasting relationship with the farming community and further respond to the community’s needs through AgLaunch’s Row Crop Challenge.