- The 2023 Wilbur-Ellis Innovation Award featured student teams presenting ideas to tackle global food challenges.
- The Grain Science Team at Kansas State University won the top prize of $25,000 for their proposal to increase perennial crop production.
- Four teams received $5,000 Honorable Mention awards for ideas ranging from desalinating salt water to increasing pollinator diversity.
- The Innovation Award program has engaged 230 students on 60 teams since its inception in 2021.
- The award aims to inspire creative solutions for feeding a population expected to grow by 2 billion people over the next 30 years.
The 2023 Wilbur-Ellis Innovation Award has spotlighted the next generation of agricultural innovators. Student teams presented their ideas for addressing the major global challenge of feeding a rapidly growing population. The award program, which began in 2021, has seen participation from 230 students across 60 teams.
Top Prize Winner
The Grain Science Team at Kansas State University clinched the top prize of $25,000. Their proposal focused on increasing the production of perennial crops, which require less soil-intensive practices than annual varieties. The team argued that this could promote soil health, biodiversity, carbon sequestration, water quality, and climate-resilient agricultural systems.
Four teams received $5,000 Honorable Mention awards for their innovative ideas:
- Desalination with Halophytic Algae: The Retriever Essentials Team from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, proposed using halophytic algae to desalinate salt water, increasing water supplies for agriculture in coastal regions facing water scarcity.
- 3D Biophysical Crop Models: The Helios Team from the University of California, Davis, suggested using 3D biophysical crop models and Virtual Reality technology to help growers make better-informed crop management decisions.
- Mushroom Production: The Controlled Environments Club at Iowa State University explored expanding the production of mushrooms as a high-quality, economical source of protein, fiber, and other nutrients.
- Pollinator Diversity: The Kansas State University Entomology Team focused on increasing the diversity of pollinators and expanding habitats and resources to help them flourish.