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What We Do

Sentinel Fertigation provides image-based crop monitoring and digital nitrogen management solutions that improve farm profitability and preserve the environment by aligning nitrogen applications with crop nitrogen needs.

Affiliated Institution: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Have we formed a company? Yes

Funding: Grant Funding, Angel Funding (including Self or Friends/Family), Venture Capital

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Our Company and the Problem We Are Trying To Solve

Nitrogen fertilizer is one of the most significant production costs for many farming operations and one of the most challenging inputs to manage. Mismanagement of nitrogen results in reduced profit for farmers and nitrogen loss to the environment which contaminates water resources. There is currently no reliable quantitative method, especially for farmers who use fertigation, to determining if and when the crop needs fertilizer, thereby leading growers to play it safe for their yields and overapply fertilizer. With fertilizer prices expected to remain near record highs for at least the next two years, imminent regulations on fertilizer application from regulatory agencies, and increased consumer demand for sustainably produced food and goods, farmers, their agronomists, and companies that buy raw agricultural products are desperate for solutions to the nitrogen management dilemma. Sentinel Fertigation’s N-Time FMS integrates with commercial software and hardware systems and farmer’s current management practices to provide farmers and their trusted advisor(s) with data and actionable recommendations that help them align fertilizer applications with crop nitrogen need so that no nitrogen fertilizer is wasted. On-farm research trials through the University of Nebraska - Lincoln used to develop and test the technology demonstrated that the technology improved nitrogen fertilizer use efficiency by 25%, and saved farmers an average of 43 lb-N/ac. Sentinel Fertigation licensed the patent-pending technology through NUtech ventures in Spring 2022 and launched a commercial paid pilot program on 8,000 acres in Nebraska and Kansas with N-Time FMS for the 2022 growing season.

Our Go-to-Market Strategy

A recent report has suggested that the global chemigation/fertigation market is expected to reach approximately $19B by 2027 at a compound annual growth rate of 8.45% inclusive of all associated technologies. We like to assess the market in terms of acres. Internationally, we estimate the number of addressable irrigated acres to total 226.5 million acres, or $1.7B acres if all were fertigated and enrolled. We estimate that 79.3 million of these acres, or $595MM if all were fertigated and enrolled, are planted to 7 readily addressable crops each year. USDA reports indicate that 7.5 million of these acres exist domestically, representing up to $56.25MM in annual recurring revenue from standalone N-Time FMS subscriptions. Because our technology has been developed and commercially released in irrigated grain corn, we are focusing on the currently fertigated grain corn market as our beachhead. Most of this market is in Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado with other geographically dense pockets located throughout the United States. We plan to capture this central market by leveraging service provider and public sector relationships within the Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado territory. Our products and services are well-equipped to capture this market because they were developed in Nebraska, specifically designed for fertigators, focus on timing of applications, isolate nitrogen from other stress factors, and provide predictive recommendations in an image-based framework. From this geography, we plan to expand our reach to territories throughout the U.S. and internationally, incorporating recommendation algorithms for adjacent crops in the process.

How We Will Generate Revenue

N-Time™ Fertigation Management System (FMS) is Sentinel’s core product offering. It is a web-based software platform that provides image-based fertigation scheduling, fertigation management tools, and nitrogen application logging. Sentinel Fertigation works with certified service providers who are trained and educated by Sentinel Fertigation to sell N-Time™ FMS to and service N-Time™ FMS for farmers. N-Time™ FMS is offered to farmers through service providers in two ways. In one model, N-Time™ FMS is offered as a standalone service for a $7.50/ac fee. Service providers are paid a commission for selling and servicing N-Time™ FMS. In the other model, N-Time™ FMS is bundled into a service package – machine lease with support or annual scouting and advising program – for a fee set by the service provider in which no tool in the service package is priced independently. Service providers then pay $6.25/ac for their and their grower’s access to N-Time™ FMS. Sentinel Fertigation routes farmers that directly express a desire to subscribe to N-Time™ FMS through their preferred local service provider. Sentinel Fertigation has also partnered with Agri-Inject to provide N-Time™ FMS with outright purchase of a co-branded ReflexConnect fertigation pump capable of variable rate fertigation, in-field data collection, and real-time monitoring. This package is sold for $9,050 (to be updated) and includes the pump, a one-year data subscription, and a one-year subscription to N-Time™ FMS on up to 160 ac. With these revenue models, margins increase with scale, particularly because imagery cost per acres decreases with density and scale.

How We Will Benefit From Destination Startup®

Colorado and the broader Intermountain West region are critical to our growth trajectory as a company. The Intermountain West region is home to a significant portion of our target market, hosts many potential strategic partners, produces top talent from which our organization prefers to draw, and effectively deploys capital to scale impactful innovations. We believe that Destination Startup will benefit our company in several facets. First, we are seeking to broaden our network of potential research collaborators, advisors, and potential team members across organizational roles. Second, we will be seeking capital investments at the time of the showcase. Though we are not currently certain of the amount, we are open to capital from a variety of sources including angel, venture, and corporate sources. Third, we believe the showcase will provide positive exposure for Sentinel Fertigation to innovators and influencers in target markets throughout the Intermountain West who will ultimately help us gain traction in new territories.

Our Team

Jackson Stansell, founder and CEO of Sentinel Fertigation, earned an M.S. in Agricultural Engineering from UNL and a B.S. in Engineering Sciences from Harvard. During his master’s program, he developed and tested the technology that Sentinel Fertigation carries forward commercially. James Herrick, Sentinel Fertigation’s Implementation Specialist, left a position as the Midwest Irrigation Specialist at Valley Irrigation to join Sentinel Fertigation in March 2022. James graduated from UNL in 2018 with a B.S. in Mechanized Systems Management while minoring in Agronomy. Riley Ellwanger, a Spring 2022 graduate of the School of Computing at UNL, is a Software Engineer at Sentinel Fertigation focusing on back-end development. Riley is from a farm family and was motivated to join Sentinel Fertigation to help conserve natural resources through software. Matt Medlin, a Spring 2022 graduate of St. Louis University, is also a Software Engineer at Sentinel Fertigation focusing on front-end development. Matt is committed to our vision of driving sustainability and profitability as a win-win solution for farmers and society. Sentinel Fertigation has previously hosted two interns in data science and implementation support roles, respectively. Currently, Sentinel Fertigation is supported by two part-time employees who have data processing and administrative support roles. Our team is the right team for the job because we are motivated to achieve a common vision, we collaborate effectively to create and implement solutions, and we are critical thinkers who are constantly learning and improving. These are the skills that are necessary to solve important and challenging problems.