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New precision planting tool could mean big savings for small farms

Company founded by UGA engineering alumnus awarded USDA grant to develop cost-saving tools for small and mid-sized farms

An agricultural technology start-up company founded by a University of Georgia engineering alumnus will lead a push to design, develop, test and deliver a system designed to reduce labor and production costs for small and mid-sized farmers.

Eden Concepts, a Knoxville, Tennessee company founded by UGA graduate Walter Cromer (photo at left), will use a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop a portable precision fluid drill for planting seeds. The system aims to improve productivity and reduce energy consumption compared to the current method of growing and planting transplants for high-value crops. The system will be designed for use in fields, greenhouses or pots and may be adapted to plant microgreens.

“Small and mid-sized farms comprise more than 95% of America’s farms, offering a variety of vegetables, flowers and specialty crops – but these farms often do not have access to the technical or financial resources needed to boost productivity, like cost- and labor-saving innovations” said Cromer, a 1988 graduate of UGA with a degree in agricultural engineering. “Increasing productivity of all farms is an essential goal, and we are incredibly honored that the USDA recognized Eden Concepts’ expertise and passion to develop and deliver a quality product that will help farmers plant with the precision they expect while greatly reducing the energy to garner a successful yield.” 

When commercially deployed, the envisioned system can be used by vegetable, flower, medicinal herb and specialty crop growers worldwide. The technology can also be adapted for use in larger, automated mechanical planting systems, according to Cromer.

The company plans to design, develop, test and deliver the system in three phases over the next 18 months. Small and mid-sized farmers who wish to be part of the product development process can contact Eden Concepts directly at walterc@edenconceptsllc.com or by phone at 865-719-5327.

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