Title: The Tulane Challenge
Date: Thu Jul 27, 2017
Time: 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Moderator: Leah Berger Jensen
Tulane Nitrogen Reduction Challenge

Tulane University Nitrogen Challenge is a $1 Million Challenge that seeks innovative in-field solutions that will reduce crop fertilizers and run-off, with the goal of combatting hypoxia and global “Dead Zones”.

The Challenge is currently in Phase 2 – the in-field test phase in Louisiana. The panel includes the Challenge Director, Top Finalist Teams and the Farmer from the Test Field Site. Hear about the Team’s diverse innovations, the benefits of a “Challenge” and lessons learned, and how these partners and Teams are working to reduce N, and “battling” it out to win the $1M prize, which will be awarded in Dec 2017. 

Leah Berger (speaker)
Tulane Nitrogen Challenge
New Orleans, LA
A consultant to Tulane University, Leah Berger Jensen is the principal and owner of The Berger Group, LLC, a consulting firm dedicated to creating healthy, vibrant communities. The Berger Group provides expertise and professional services in areas of: 1) Clinical Sites & Community Health Centers, 2) Public Health & Community Health, and 3) Leadership & Organizational Development, all grounded in a framework of health equity, collective impact, capacity building, and social justice. As the director for the Tulane Nitrogen Reduction Challenge Ms. Jensen is responsible for internal logistics, as well as external affairs for project, educating about hypoxia, the Dead Zone and its impact upon the Gulf Coast and world communities. This includes leading promotion, recruitment and education efforts for the Challenge across diverse sectors, including innovation and entrepreneurship, agriculture, science, and technology. She interfaces with local and regional partners across the south, as well as supporters at the national level including the EPA, USDA, and White House's Office of Science of Technology. Prior to founding The Berger Group, Ms. Jensen worked at Tulane University School of Medicine (TUSOM) for seven years where her efforts led to the development and founding of five health centers and TUSOM’s Office of Community Affairs and Health Policy, serving as it’s Executive Director. She concurrently served as Co-Executive Director of the Ruth U. Fertel/Tulane Community Health Center, where she developed and managed a brand new, state-of-the-art clinic dedicated to providing high-quality, cost-effective care to under-resourced and uninsured families. Over the years Ms. Jensen has been honored for her work, including selection as one of New Orleans' CityBusiness "Women of the Year", New Orleans "Top 40 Under 40", the nation's "100 Great Disruptive Heroes" for her pioneering work in the health care delivery system, and participation in New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute (NORLI) and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. She serves as a Board Member for Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine's Alumni Association and is on the Advisory Committee for Louisiana Healthcare Connections. Ms. Jensen received her Bachelor of Arts from Connecticut College in both Cultural Anthropology and Gender and Women Studies. She attended the School for International Training in Kenya with a focus in Development, Health, and Society, and received her Master of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in 2004 with a focus in International Health and Development.
Length (approx): 20 min
Team Adapt-N

Adapt-N is a nitrogen technology solution that uses models and data to precisely manage nitrogen for grain production. It allows for real-time and site-specific N management and can be used on its own or through integration with other farm management platforms.  We have shown win-win benefits where more efficient N management results in increased farm profits and reduced environmental impacts.  We will review field evaluations, including the Tulane Challenge trial, and also the new Adapt-N modules on cover crops and inhibitors.

Harold van Es (speaker)
Professor of Soil Science
Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-1901
Harold van Es is a Professor of Soil Science at Cornell University and was the 2016 President of the Soil Science Society of America. He pioneered new technology for precision corn nitrogen management using digital technologies (Adapt-N), which was commercialized by Agronomic Technology Corporation and is used in several sustainability initiatives. He also leads the Cornell Soil Health Initiative and co-developed the Comprehensive Assessment of Soil Health Framework.
Length (approx): 20 min
Team Cropsmith

There is no single solution to the problem of inefficient fertilizer use. A systems approach to nitrogen management is needed. Team Cropsmith proposes a blend of soil chemistry, microbiology, agronomy, and data analysis to determine the best practices for fertilizer N for efficient corn production. Our system includes:

  1. a novel soil test to determine the N supplying power of the soil,
  2. innovative new products to reduce N loss and enhance biological N fixation,
  3. agronomic recommendations that adapt to corn production regions and farmer risk management strategies
  4. a system of data generation that helps farmers and their consultants customize N applications to fit the particular needs of a field.

This approach faces the fact that N management is a complex issue and a systems approach is the best solution for economic and environmental sustainability. 

Of the nitrogen needed to feed the crop, most comes from the soil. But different soils have different capabilities for mineralizing nitrogen and making it available to the crop. The Illinois Soil Nitrogen Test (ISNT) is a measure of a portion of organic nitrogen in the soil. This measure coincides with the microbial biomass which is a direct indication of the potential for the soil to mineralize nitrogen. When we know what nitrogen to expect from the soil we can better explain the yield response to applied nitrogen fertilizer. Factoring the nitrogen coming from the soil into the equation for the overall N needed by the crop makes our fertilizer N recommendations much more efficient. We add more nitrogen where the soil supply is low. We add less nitrogen where the soil supply is high. 

Tim Smith (speaker)
Farmer City, IL 61842

Tim Smith is the managing agronomist for Cropsmith Inc., where he has been instrumental in the development of programs aimed at improving nutrient use efficiencies for producers. Previously he was a visiting research specialist in soil fertility at the University of Illinois. He researched improving nitrogen use efficiency in corn production. The primary emphasis is on development of the ISNT to improve nitrogen recommendations for corn, especially as related to site-specific application. He has extensive knowledge of the ISNT laboratory procedure. Smith works on the spatial and temporal aspect of the ISNT and sampling to improve map quality. He has developed Cropsmith's independent lab for the analysis of soil samples using the ISNT procedure. Smith has experience as a marketing information manager for a farmer owned cooperative with over eight million dollars in sales. He has developed precision application programs that benefited farmers by reducing fertilizer usage and increasing yields. Smith is a Certified Professional Agronomist and has 25 years of experience working directly with producers on fertility related issues. He has wide-ranging knowledge of variable rate application equipment and software.

Length (approx): 20 min
Rethinking Crop Nutrition: ON Technology from Pivot Bio

Every season, farmers face unpredictable growing conditions. Weather, field variability and other environmental factors can prevent up to half of the nitrogen applied to crops from being available to plants that need it.

This is where Pivot Bio’s innovative ON Technology™ comes in.  It harnesses the innate ability of naturally occurring microbes to provide cereals crops with nutrients, such as nitrogen, right when they need them the most. ON Technology, also known as guided microbial remodeling, is a state-of-the-art process that identifies, characterizes and fine-tunes microbes to realize their full potential. Adapting the genetic material naturally present in a microbe significantly increases nutrient uptake by the crop.

This is a game-changing approach.  ON technology allows farmers to protect their investment and help them achieve their yield potential with better environmental outcomes. 

Kevin Hammill (speaker)
Chief Operating Officer
Pivot Bio
Berkeley, CA 94710
Kevin Hammill has over 25 years of global and domestic leadership and broad commercial success in the agriculture industry including crop protection, plant nutrition and animal health. As the COO of Pivot Bio he is partnering with the founders to pioneer the use of microbe-powered technology to re-think crop nutrition. Previously, Kevin served in various executive roles at Valent (Sumitomo Chemical), BASF and American Cyanamid. Comfortable in either a corporate boardroom or on the farm, his unique understanding of both environments has been critical in helping to shape the Pivot Bio brand and grow its business.
Length (approx): 20 min
Team Stable'N

Stable'N is a nitrification inhibitor process that utilizes electricity delivered into the soil by a retrofit to existing fertilizer application equipment.  This nitrification inhibitor works much like a traditional chemically based nitrification inhibitor, but it can be applied for much less cost per acre on a farm.  By inhibiting the nitrification process, many nitrogen fertilizers will not be converted into a form of nitrogen that can be easily lost from the soil - therefore more of the nitrogen that is applied will be available for the crop to use.  This type of protectionary practice can help farmers ensure that their crops will achieve yield goals without wasting or over-applying fertilizers.  Nitrification inhibitors are already a common practice on many farms, and our technology will help make this practice more economical and more regularly adopted.

Bryan Tomm (speaker)
Farmer / Engineering Consultant
Hubele-Tomm Farm LLC / BT Industrial LLC
Carmi, IL 62821
Bryan grew up on a corn and soybean farm in central Illinois. As a result, Bryan developed a passion for agriculture which continued as he pursued a career in engineering. Bryan earned a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois and then worked for ADM for over 8 years in various engineering and management positions. Bryan now farms with his brother-in-law in southern Illinois where they farm about 2500 acres of corn, soybeans, and wheat. Bryan also owns and operates a small engineering consulting firm that focuses primarily on product development and reliability.
Length (approx): 20 min
Farming the Tulane Nitrogen Challenge
Mead Hardwick (speaker)
Hardwick Planting Company
Newellton, LA, NA 71357
Length (approx): 20 min