Innovation Profile: FarrPro

Amos Petersen

FarrPro Innovates to Apply Cutting Edge Technologies to Agriculture and Livestock Production

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have rippled throughout many sectors of the economy, including Iowa’s startup sector. Iowa City-based FarrPro adjusted quickly to a changing marketplace and pivoted their focus from selling their first, flagship product, to moving ahead their research pipeline and building partnerships for innovations to bring to the pork industry.

FarrPro was founded by Amos Petersen in 2016 to develop the idea that became the Haven, which creates an efficient microclimate to keep piglets warm, safe, and healthy inside farrowing barns.

In early 2020, FarrPro was focused on sales and distribution of the Haven, however, demand for the product came to a halt when the U.S. pork industry was faced with an oversupply of pigs due to reduced processing capacity at plants.

“We had just received results of a second research study that showed positive data about the Haven and were ready to share that information and promote the product when COVID-19 began to impact the pork industry,” said Petersen. “Instead of trying to sell a product to pork producers whose barns were already at capacity, we decided to look at the ideas in our pipeline and focus on Research and Development.”

The FarrPro team began to look for other ways to improve the environment inside pig barns to make them more efficient, meet animal needs, and provide more information to farmers.

“It has led to several collaborations and agreements with leaders in industries outside of agriculture, but whose technologies can bring benefits to agriculture and livestock production,” said Petersen. “We’ve been able to develop and bring to market new solutions that were 24 months out in our original planning.”

The next round of products from FarrPro include the Nano Mat, a Graphene heating mat that provides an efficient, comfortable, and durable option to heat lamps or wired heat mats to keep piglets warm. While lamps and wired mats produce heat in small areas, it can lead to uneven and inefficient heating. The Nano Mat distributes heat evenly and will last five to ten times longer than the industry standard mats. The FarrPro team is also developing a lighting technology that will supplement LED lighting systems with Vitamin D in a barn environment.

FarrPro has entered into agreements with industry leaders for active air purification within barns, an ionization process for water that will make it more effective for disinfecting and cleaning barns, and motion capture technology for next-generation ear tags.

Petersen is looking forward to the World Pork Expo scheduled for June 9-11, 2021, in Des Moines to demonstrate new technologies and products to pork producers and industry leaders.

“Iowa has been the perfect place for us to develop and test our technologies and access resources through the universities and IEDA to build our business and secure investments,” he said. “It is exciting to see the quality of job candidates and people excited about entrepreneurship opportunities who are all living in Iowa.”

FarrPro participated in the 2017 Iowa AgriTech Accelerator class, completed its seed round in 2018, and has secured additional financing as well as product representation agreements. FarrPro has also won several pork industry awards including the Canadian Pork Innovation award and Producers Choice at the 2019 National Hog Farmer New Product Tour. Dr. Steve Hoff, a retired professor at Iowa State, has also joined the company as Director of Engineering, and they are looking to add a COO to the management team.