A Calvert County company using drones to provide farmers with key data about their crops was named the winner of AgPitch 2018.
MADTECH, founded by father-and-son team Tom and Zach Marnane, of Huntingtown, won $7,500, as well as access to accounting, legal, and other business services.
Organized by MidAtlantic Farm Credit, the Dec. 6 event featured five agriculture-focused founders pitching to an audience of about 250 attendees during the Grow and Fortify Summit in Stevensville. MidAtlantic Farm Credit received about 30 applicants for the event. The Westminster-based agricultural lender has been in operation since 1916, and is seeing the industry advance.
“As agriculture continues to evolve, and more career options are appearing on and off the field, we’re proud to support those who make up this diverse industry,” said Jenny Kreisher, Farm Credit’s Director of Communications and Creative Services. “We are excited to offer a platform for these innovative companies to showcase their solutions to real-world challenges, and introduce their organizations to a broader audience.”
MADTECH, short for Marnane Agricultural Drone Technologies, captures data from above a farm utilizing two types of fixed-wing drones that can cover 400 acres in an hour. Software integrates imagery that is both seen and “unseen,” the latter using a multispectral camera. The company also provides lab testing, Tom Marnane said.
The company aims to gather data and establish a baseline of existing practices. Using the data, the company provides recommendations to help increase crop yields, and increase efficiency. It also offers prescriptions optimize use of farm equipment, and can identify potential problems within crops.
Tom Marnane said the company started after his son Zach Marnane developed an expertise in drones, and saw the chance to help farmers in the area. Currently, the company has a team of five people, and is working with 50 farms. Being selected as a finalist and preparing for AgPitch helped “sharpen” the company and gain support. It added customers during the lead-up to the event, as well.
“We think we have a great capacity to expand this rapidly, and MidAtlantic Farm Credit is helping us with that,” Tom Marnane said.
Additional finalists included:
- 1000 EcoFarms: A company which helps small farmers market and sell products through the web, social media, blockchain and other channels.
- AgriMetis: The Lutherville-based company has patented technology to develop more sustainable crop protection products.
- GreatAlga: A Baltimore-based company which grows algae in bioreactors to be used in livestock feed.
- Johnny Oyster Seed: The company has an oyster farming system that makes oyster cage retrieval and transportation more efficient.