We are a startup leading the charge to bring small, robotic solutions to solve the most pressing problems in agriculture. Our solutions deliver higher profitability while improving stewardship.
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.
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.
John Bares, Founder of Rowbot's Strategic Partner, Carnegie Robotics
The team at Carnegie Robotics is a strategic partner of Rowbot's, helping with early development of our robotic platform and autonomy technology. John has brought a wealth of robotics expertise to the challenge from years as a member of the research faculty at Carnegie Mellon University, including leading the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) for 13 years before launching Carnegie Robotics. John holds B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from Carnegie Mellon.
Charlie Bares, Head of Grower Advisory Board
Charlie's hands-on knowledge of farming has been critical in the development of Rowbot's strategy since day one. Charlie runs one of the most profitable dairy farms in the Northeast, with over 2,000 acres of corn in production. He has been in dairy farming for over 20 years and holds a B.S. in animal science from Cornell.
Managing Nitrogen During the Season
There's a whole lot of corn in the world—over 400m 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.
During the 2014 season, we began test marketing our in-season nitrogen (sidedressing) and cover crop seeding services.
We are now starting to form our plans for 2015 and beyond. 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.