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Grow-NY wants to award $3m to agrifoodtech startups focused on the future of food and farming

In a new report, A Call for Innovation: New York’s Agrifood System, made clear the increasingly urgent needs farmers have related to climate change and the barriers facing them in meeting those needs. Published by Cornell University last year, the findings are just as relevant, if not more so, a year later.

The vast majority of farmers interviewed for the report discussed increasingly erratic weather as a threat to their crop yields, specifically heavier rainfalls, and longer drought periods each year.

These observations were supported by The National Climate Assessment and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), whose analyses supported projections of increasing heavy precipitation in the Northeast and its possible negative effects on agricultural production in the region. 

Between 1958 and 2012, the Northeast saw a 70% increase in the amount of heavy rainfall, more than anywhere else in the US, according to the EPA. Farmers need early warning systems to more accurately predict destructive weather events like frost, heavy rain, and hail that threaten the health of their crops. 

Long-term climate mitigation approaches for agriculture have been proposed, from indoor farming, controlled environment agriculture methods (e.g., hydroponics, aeroponics, and aquaponics), and regenerative agriculture methods (e.g., cover cropping and no-till farming) to organic farming, methane reduction, and even robotics. However, in practice, farmers are a long way from being able to implement these strategies for a variety of reasons, including questionable returns on investment and effectiveness of these new methods and prohibitively high costs.

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