We provide early warning of airborne pathogens in specialty crops using an automated sensor network. The network enables timely and minimal pesticide applications. We target pathogens that devastate crops regularly; thus, crop preservation even without pesticide savings gives growers a strong economic incentive to adopt our product. The sensors are designed to minimize manufacturing costs to allow affordable pricing and wide device deployment. The collected data will become a resource for ecology-based AI modeling of crop disease risk.

We test different DNA-based assay systems for robustness, accuracy, efficiency, and cost. For example, what percentage of spores are cracked with different methods? How do the assays perform when dirt blows in or when reagents get very hot (100F, 120F)? Sarah is leading this work.

The sensor consists of a base unit and a cartridge. All reagents will be in the replaceable cartridge, and the cartridge contains ~20 tests for frequent sampling during month...
We provide early warning of airborne pathogens in specialty crops using an automated sensor network. The network enables timely and minimal pesticide applications. We target pathogens that devastate crops regularly; thus, crop preservation even without pesticide savings gives growers a strong economic incentive to adopt our product. The sensors are designed to minimize manufacturing costs to allow affordable pricing and wide device deployment. The collected data will become a resource for ecology-based AI modeling of crop disease risk.

We test different DNA-based assay systems for robustness, accuracy, efficiency, and cost. For example, what percentage of spores are cracked with different methods? How do the assays perform when dirt blows in or when reagents get very hot (100F, 120F)? Sarah is leading this work.

The sensor consists of a base unit and a cartridge. All reagents will be in the replaceable cartridge, and the cartridge contains ~20 tests for frequent sampling during months-long growing seasons. The housing will contain the electronics. Sarah and Ken have been working together on prototype design ideas.

The sensor data collection and grower interface are being developed using the AWS Amplify platform. Ken is leading this software work. The pathogen data can be combined with weather and other ecological measurements using AI methods to provide crop management services.

We have invested much effort in the customer discovery process. We have talked to growers, PCAs, farm advisors, professors, and USDA scientists. Our discussions have helped us understand what the biggest problems are and how they are being managed. Our sensors will provide actionable insights because spores are detectable in the air 7-10 days before disease symptoms appear and growers need just 4 days warning to treat successfully or harvest early.

Our investigations led us to start with spinach/downy mildew because of the severity of the problem and receptiveness of that industry to our product. We will test our product with USDA researcher Dr. Klosterman, who measures spinach downy mildew via laboratory analysis and is trusted by growers. We also have PCAs asking to test our product, which not only gives us a pathway to revenue and traction, but also grants us the best feedback to improve our product. After validating our product in the relatively small and receptive spinach market, we will expand to vineyards, where powdery mildew is a serious problem.
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Investors

Berkeley SkyDeck
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Berkeley SkyDeck Bring us your moonshot startup!

Advisors

Rodrigo Almeida
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Rodrigo Almeida Science Advisor UC Berkeley Professor of Ecology of Emerging Infectious Diseases

Employees

Sarah Placella
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Sarah Placella CEO I am a creative, disciplined, goal-oriented person. A phiBK scientist, I am dedicated to applying my knowledge to improve the world.