Robotic solutions for row crop agriculture
Kent Cavender-Bares, CEO
Kent's vision for creating the future of robotic farming starts with the needs of both the plant and the farmer. His driving motivation is to make it easy for farmers to use all of their inputs more efficiently. As CEO, he defines Rowbot's solutions, works with investors, manages operations and charts out IP strategy. He holds a B.S. in agricultural and biological engineering from Cornell, a M.S. in environmental engineering from Stanford, and a Ph.D. in environmental engineering from MIT. Prior leadership roles in environmental non-profits. Kent grew up operating and repairing farm equipment. [email, LinkedIn]
Brian Beyer, CTO & COO
Brian has over 15 years experience commercializing robotic systems. At Carnegie Robotics (CRL), he led the effort to win and carry out $23M, Autonomous Mine Detection System EMD contract. Brian also led development of ROWBOT’s advanced prototype, which was a project at CRL. As EVP at CRL, Brian oversaw day-to-day operations, building team from 20 to 70. He's an infantryman with 13 years of service in both the US Marine Corps and Army National Guard. Brian holds a B.S. from the University of South Carolina. [email, LinkedIn]
John Bares, Executive Chairman
Internationally-renowned robotics leader. Past director of NREC at Carnegie Mellon University. John was the founding director of Uber’s Advanced Tech Center (UATC) in Pittsburgh, building the team that logged 1 million self-driving miles. John founded Carnegie Robotics and led it during development of Rowbot’s foundational technology. John also serves as CEO at Carnegie Robotics and holds B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from Carnegie Mellon.
David LaRose, Chief Robotics Scientist
David has over 25 years experience in robotics and computer vision. Previously, he's been involved in commercializing technologies in the biomedical, environmental, military, energy, and agricultural markets. David was involved in the development of ROWBOT’s autonomy technology while it was a project at CRL. David had a key role with Uber’s self-driving car effort. He serves also as Chief Scientist at Carnegie Robotics. David holds a B.S from Brown, and M.S., Ph.D. degrees from Carnegie Mellon University.
Rowbot was founded in 2012 by three entrepreneurial brothers. Charlie Bares is a large-scale dairyman and corn grower from NY State. Kent Cavender-Bares is an environmental scientist, who trained as an agricultural engineer and is based in Minnesota. John Bares is a co-founder of Carnegie Robotics, a robotics team that has deep experience designing and manufacturing high-quality products for agriculture and other markets.
Managing Nitrogen During the Season
There's a whole lot of corn in the world—over 400 million acres—and it all grows tall fast. As it's growing, farmers are challenged to supply key nutrients efficiently—especially nitrogen. Why? The corn gets tall so fast that it's hard to match fertilizer applications to the needs of the plants.
Timing is important because nitrogen is easily lost during periods of heavy rain. Applying nitrogen near the time it will be used by a rapidly growing crop makes the most sense.
The problem facing many growers is that a rapidly growing crop, mixed with uncertain field conditions, leads to situations where in-season applications of nitrogen (often called "side-dressing") cannot be carried out as planned. Constraints and worries linked to crop height keep many growers from using in-season nitrogen management, a widely recognized best practice.
Seeding Cover Crops Before the Corn Harvest
Enthusiasm for using cover crops in combination with growing corn is growing steadily by the day. These crops are used to keep the soil covered through the fall, winter, and early spring. They contribute to building soil health, keeping excess nitrogen on the field until the following growing season, and fighting compaction. Recent USDA survey data are pointing to higher yields for cash crops that follow a cover crop planting.
The problem facing growers who want to use cover crops with corn is that there is only a very narrow growing window after the corn harvest late in the fall. Progressive growers are trying out a variety of methods to get cover crops seeded in late August and September, after the corn is mature but before it is harvested. Seeding then can extend the growing window for cover crops by a month or more. However, there aren't reliable, cost-effective methods today to seed cover crops into standing corn that can approach 10 feet tall.
Rowbot is redefining what’s possible for farmers by using robotics. Our first machine is a small, self-driving, multi-use platform that travels between rows of corn, removing height constraints imposed by a rapidly growing crop.
Our Rowbots work in teams to apply nitrogen fertilizer in sync with corn needs, inter-seed cover-crops into tall corn, and collect data to inform both current and future work.
We have completed early test marketing our in-season nitrogen (sidedressing) and cover crop seeding services. Please contact us if you are an ag retailer, agronomist, or corn grower with interest in where Rowbot services will be available in the future.