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SBIR Impact - January 2010

SBIR Impact is a quarterly newsletter for small businesses interested in the USDA-Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and for institutions and organizations that support the small business community and rural America.


Phase I applications, submitted for the September 3, 2009 deadline, are undergoing peer review.  Applications have been assigned and sent to reviewers, and panels will meet in January, February and March. Final funding recommendations will be made in mid-March, with notifications to companies being made shortly thereafter.  Grants will become official on or around May 1, 2010 provided that the recommended companies successfully complete the NIFA administrative review.  The next deadline for submitting a Phase I application to the USDA SBIR program is tentatively scheduled for September 2, 2010. 

This program solicitation is for prior USDA SBIR Phase I projects that are eligible to apply for Phase II funding.  The deadline for Phase II applications is February 4, 2010.  All applications must be submitted electronically via Grants.gov by 5 p.m. eastern time.  In addition, all potential applicants must complete the required registration process prior to submitting their application.  This process can take up to one month; therefore, any companies that have not yet begun this process need to do so immediately.  Information on the registration can be found on the Organization Registration pages of Grants.gov. If you have any questions about submitting an application for this submission please contact our office by sending an email to sbir@nifa.usda.gov.


Holland Scientific, Inc. received a Phase II grant in 2003 to develop a novel sunlight independent crop canopy reflectance sensor.  The Crop Circle ACS-430 active crop canopy sensor provides classic vegetative index data as well as basic reflectance information from plant canopies and soil.  Unlike passive radiometric light sensors, the Crop Circle ACS-430 is not limited by ambient lighting conditions. Therefore measurements can be made day or night due to its unique, light source technology.  For on-the-go applications, the Crop Circle ACS-430 sensor can be mounted to virtually any type of vehicle to remotely sense and/or map plant or crop canopy biomass while driving through a field. The compact size and low weight design allows Crop Circle to be easily adapted to pole-mounted and handheld applications. Information produced by the sensor can be utilized to quantify the impact of nutrients, water, disease or other growing conditions on plants or crops.

Holland Scientific, Inc has entered into a Phase III commercialization agreement with Ag Leader Technology, Inc. to sell this technology under the name OptRx.  This crop sensor is used for mapping and data collection as well as real-time variable rate application of agrochemicals, specifically nitrogen. This new crop sensor technology allows operators to put the right amount of nitrogen where the crop needs it, thus allowing operators to take full advantage of ideal application conditions. For more information about the sensor, visit http://www.hollandscientific.com/ACS-430.html and http://www.agleader.com.

Green Heron Tools is a current Phase I awardee that is designing agricultural tools and equipment based on women's unique anatomical and physiological characteristics to lead to increased productivity, a reduced incidence of agriculturally related injuries and disabilities, improved quality of life, and enhanced viability of farming for women. Green Heron Tools' SBIR project will be featured in the January/February issue of Passages, a newsletter of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. The article will cover work funded under this SBIR grant and will be mailed out to approximately 4,500 individuals and organizations throughout the U.S.  To date, the project has been supported by women's farming and/or sustainable agriculture organizations in 10 states.  For more information visit http://greenherontools.com.

Westscape Wholesale Nursery received a 2009 Phase I grant to develop a phytoremediation technology to reduce the environmental impacts of coal bed methane development (CBM) in Montana and the Rocky Mountain States.  CBM exploration is expanding rapidly with the nation's focus on energy independence and the relative ease of extraction. Extraction of CBM necessitates pumping large volumes of often saline discharge waters to the surface. The impacts of those waters include: reductions in the quality and quantity of surface and sub-surface waters for drinking and agricultural purposes; increased salt levels to drainage wetlands and major river systems which can increase the salt levels of irrigation water; increased contamination of surface water; loss of productive agricultural rangeland; irreversible physical and chemical damage to agricultural and rangeland soils; changes in native plant communities and dependent wildlife; and increased soil erosion and resultant dust pollution. The EPA has stated that CBM development is the single greatest environmental challenge facing the Intermountain West. Between 2 to 4 trillion gallons of discharge water will be pumped onto the surface in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana alone over the next 20 years. CBM development is also at center stage of an enormous amount of litigation involving landowners, state and federal agencies, energy exploration companies, environmental groups, and in some cases between states (Montana vs. Wyoming), as rivers and aquifers traverse state boundaries. The use of plants to remove various pollutants from soil and water (phytoremediation) is an area receiving widespread attention.  Phytoremediation is seen as a relatively "low-tech" methodology for ameliorating pollutants and is far more cost effective than complex treatment facilities. Halophytes are a group of salt resistant plants which have demonstrated abilities to evaporate large volumes of saline water and to remove substantial amounts of detrimental salts from impacted soils. The use and efficacy of these plants in many temperate/tropical areas of the world is well established. The goal of this research is to develop a cost effective, cold climate, plant-based system to remediate saline impacted soils lands in Montana and Wyoming so that native vegetation or saline tolerant agricultural crops could be re-established.  The owners and Principle Directors for this project, Laura Smith and Robert Dunn, recently presented a poster titled “The Use of Ion-Accumulating Halophytes for Phytoremediation of Saline and Selenium Impacted Soils and Water in Cold-Arid Climates” at the 6th International Phytotechnology Conference, 2009 in St. Louis, MO.  This is an annual conference sponsored by the US EPA which brings together researchers from around the world, working in the phytotechnology field.  There were approximately 200 presenters from 25 countries sharing their research.  For more information about the company go to http://www.westscapenursery.net.

USDA SBIR Staff encourages all grantees to review the terms and conditions that were provided in the grant paperwork.  Within the terms and conditions are the requirements for completing your grant, including deliverables and how funding is disbursed.  If you cannot locate the terms and conditions in your package you can download a copy at the Grantee Resources page.

Proper acknowledgement of NIFA funding in published manuscripts, presentations, and news releases is critical for the success of the USDA SBIR program. We specifically ask that you use the following language to acknowledge this support:

“This project was supported by the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program of the USDA National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA), Grant Number (Insert Grant Number Here).”

We strongly encourage you to acknowledge NIFA funding in interviews and articles that feature your company, as well as work that was supported through our program. This acknowledgement is beneficial for both the USDA SBIR program and the companies with whom we partner.


This year’s Phase I commercialization training program was a great success.  Participant feedback indicated that the information will help to develop a concise commercialization plan for Phase II application submission.  The USDA SBIR program is planning to continue this training in the future and as more information is available it will be highlighted in the SBIR Impact newsletter and via emails to Phase I grantees.

The USDA SBIR program has partnered with Larta Institute, a premier commercialization assistance organization, to develop and implement the 2010 USDA-Commercialization Assistance Training Program (USDA-CATP) for Phase II projects.  With Larta’s help, Phase II awardees will be able to develop a commercialization strategy as they further develop their technology, process or product. 

Information about the USDA-CATP will be sent to all 2010 Phase II awardees after they are awarded.  For further information please contact the USDA SBIR program at sbir@nifa.usda.gov or Ms. Constanza Pachon of Larta Institute at 213.538.1451 or cpachon@larta.org.



Dr. Suresh Sureshwaran will present the SBIR program at the National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA) Competitive Funding Programs workshop to be held January 15th, 2010 at the University of Minnesota in St. Paul, MN.

Dr. Suresh Sureshwaran will present the SBIR program at the Southern SAWG's Practical Tools and Solutions for Sustaining Family Farms Conference to be held January 20-23, 2010 at the Chattanooga Convention Center in Tennessee.  For more information go to http://www.ssawg.org/

Dr. Richard Hegg will present at the joint USDA/EPA SBIR Program workshop being hosted by the Nebraska Business Development Center in Omaha Nebraska March 24, 2010. For more information and registration details go to http://nbdc.unomaha.edu/SBIR/.

Dr. Charles Cleland will be attending the Ag Innovation Showcase being hosted at the at the Danforth Plant Science Center, St Louis Missouri March 24 – 25, 2010.  For more details about the meeting go to http://agshowcase.com


Dr. Charles Cleland

  • 8.1 Forests and Related Resources
  • 8.4 Soil, Water and Soils
  • 8.7 Aquaculture
  • 8.12 Small and Mid Size Farms

Dr. William Goldner

  • 8.2 Plant Production and Protection – Biology
  • 8.8 Biofuels and Biobased Products
  • 8.13 Plant Production and Protection – Engineering

Dr. Richard Hegg

  • 8.11 Animal Manure Management

Dr. S. Sureshwaran

  • 8.6 Rural and Community Development
  • 8.9 Marketing and Trade

Dr. Dionne Toombs

  • 8.5 Food Science and Nutrition

Dr. Adele Turzillo

  • 8.3 Animal Production and Protection

Scott Dockum

  • General SBIR Program Support


The USDA SBIR staff encourages feedback concerning this newsletter and, more broadly, the administration of the USDA SBIR program. We are committed to being responsive to the needs of applicants to the program and to those companies who have received USDA SBIR grants. Please send comments to sbir@nifa.usda.gov or call (202) 401-4995.


To receive email notification of future USDA SBIR newsletter releases, send a message to sbir@nifa.usda.gov and type subscribe SBIR in the subject line.

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