WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A group of three Purdue University students took home $20,000 for inventing a liquid biostimulant designed to promote growth in vertical farm crops.
Biostimulants help crops germinate rapidly, achieve greater plant mass and yield, and improve nutrient uptake.
Cai Chen, Nate Nauman and Emmanuel Alagbe were the winners of the 27th annual Student Soybean Innovation Competition hosted by the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Purdue University. Their product is 98% soy.
“One of the major successes we saw with our product is how great it worked with lettuce we’ve grown in the greenhouse,” Chen said.
When biostimulant was added to lettuce, it was 30% larger than standard lettuce, Chen said.
Three other teams were honored for their innovations.
Second prize: Arachnitape. Team members Andres Dextre, Erick Forkpah, Sarah Heffner and Jieun (Grace) Lee developed a soy-based, hypoallergenic athletic tape.
Third prize: Soykind. Team members Luke DeLong, Vy (Vee) Le and Shulin Wang created an eco-friendly, innovative replacement for cosmetic face masks.
People’s Choice winner: Team Soyrenity members Natasha Abraham, John Mutter and Diana Ramirez-Gutierrez created a transdermal patch for patients who suffer from bone density pain or to sooth symptoms related to menopause..
“The soybean new-uses program is one of the many ways ISA invests farmer dollars to help build demand for soybeans and their products,” said Courtney Kingery, CEO of Indiana Soybean Alliance.
Jim Douglas, vice chairman of ISA board of directors, said the competition is a win for both farmers and students.
“The competition accomplishes many goals, and that’s why it’s been around for 27 years,” he said. “For soybean farmers like me, this competition has sparked new products and uses for soybeans, and it improves the value of our crop. For Purdue University and its students, the competition provides a hands-on experience of research, development, marketing and much more.”