Gary Wickham has big expectations for his agritech business MagGrow, which has developed a spraying technology for droplet formation that yields spray drift reduction and spray coverage performance.
Founded by chief executive Gary along with business consultant David Moore in 2013 and employing over 25 people, MagGrow aims to provide the best technology solutions for farmers to grow their crops in a sustainable way to solve some of the greatest food and water challenges facing this planet.
The innovative concept was developed by Ted Lenhardt, a Florida-based inventor with more than 40 years’ experience in agriculture. From Ted’s extensive research, he knew that existing technologies for crops were a compromise between coverage and drift control. Approximately 70% of what is sprayed during conventional spraying is wasted.
Intrigued by his work, Gary and David decided to invest in developing Ted Lenhardt’s basic idea. Besides using less inputs and water, you generate less waste by minimising pesticide run-off to the soil and water. However, using a fine droplet size while trying to maximise drift control is a key challenge for conventional drift reduction technologies because fine droplets take longer to fall out of the air and are harder to control. In fact, over 70% of pesticide spray does not reach its target and it runs off to rivers and streams as well as polluting the wider environment. This is where MagGrow spraying technology steps in.
MagGrow is a patented, proprietary technology for droplet formation that yields superior drift reduction of over 70% and increased spray coverage performance ranging from 36% to over 100% compared to conventional spraying. As well as the two core benefits of drift control and superior coverage, MagGrow also reduces water by up to 50%, extends spray windows and reduces labour requirements. The MagGrow system has no moving parts, is easy to install and maintain, and can be fitted to a new or existing crop sprayer.
With an increasing demand on food and water, MagGrow’s technology is supporting a more sustainable food production system. MagGrow is working closely with leading research centres, including UC Davis in California, Pacific Ag Rentals and Wageningen University in the Netherlands amongst others.
MagGrow is a science based technology company. In this regard, MagGrow has established a partnership with Trinity College Dublin around pure research of the MagGrow technology, an industrial engineering and research centre partnership with Harper Adams University in England and established its own crop science centre at Farm 491 in the Royal Agricultural University in the UK.
After spending over €10m on research, product development, and testing, (farmers and third party validation). MagGrow commercially launched in 2018 in the USA, Canada, Europe and South Africa.
Customer independent test data shows customers using up to 50% less chemical and water to achieve better crop coverage/efficacy.
While prompted by competitive demands and the global challenge of meeting the needs for future food production, MagGrow’s primary focus is on meeting customer needs and satisfaction based on results.
The world needs approximately 70% more food over the next 40-50 years, using less scarce resources such as land and water and this is where MagGrow fits in. MagGrow supports farmer’s dual goals of increased profitability and sustainability by using less inputs and scarce resources to grow more.
Recently MagGrow announced a major strategic partnership with Trimble Inc, a world-leading multinational precision agri company. MagGrow has been chosen as a Trimble Select Partner for agriculture. As a Trimble Select Partner, Trimble will have access to MagGrow’s innovative spraying technology which will be available through the Trimble Dealer and Vantage™ distribution networks. MagGrow and Trimble are a perfect fit as they are both brand agnostic and want to reduce inputs and protect the environment.
MagGrow has two main products which Gary claims has a typical return on investment of less than one year. The flagship MagGrow Tractor Boom is designed for retrofit onto a tractor boom, regardless of the make or model. Made from cast aluminum with no moving parts, the system is easily installed with little or no maintenance. All parts have been pressure tested to operate up to 15 bar. This product is designed to fit any sprayer make or size.
The MagGrow Backpack Sprayer is mainly used in greenhouses, but can also be used outdoors. It features MagGrow’s pioneering technology and unique application technique to optimise spray operations while maximising operator comfort and reducing risk of exposure. Popular with flower growers, Gary sees a big opening for this product in the emerging marijuana and cannabis-growing businesses. MagGrow are currently in discussions with OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers) to scale this product into multiple markets.
The MagGrow technology has many potential applications and the MagGrow team are developing new products to be launched in the next 12-18 months.
From a Quality point of view, MagGrow have recently completed both stage one and two audit for ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System, and have been recommended by the NSAI for registration. MagGrow uses third party manufactures for all of its products and is well positioned to scale the business internationally.
‘The market opportunity is enormous for MagGrow, with the boom retro fit market worth well in excess of €7billion,” says Gary Wickham.
A chemist, technologist and businessman, Gary has every confidence in MagGrow being a worldwide success.
MagGrow began as a start-up at the research and innovation centre in Nova, UCD (University College Dublin), before relocating to commercial premises in Clonskeagh, Dublin in January 2017. Gary started his career at Henkel Loctite, where he held several management positions, before joined Reheis Pharma Ireland as their managing director with a turnover of over €40 million. In 2003, he co-founded and set up StayCity Apartment Hotels, which operates 1,400 apartments across a number of UK and European cities, employs over 500 people and has revenues of €70m+.
With a background in engineering, David Moore is also noted for his business acumen.
Block 2, Clonskeagh Square, Clonskeagh Road,
Telephone: +353 (0)1 567 6060
Taken from Irish Tractor & Agri magazine Vol 7 No 3, June/July 2019