USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service of Missouri Awards Waterborne Environmental with Cutting-Edge Drone Technology-based Agricultural Health Project

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USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service of Missouri Awards Waterborne Environmental with Cutting-Edge Drone Technology-based Agricultural Health Project

March 4, 2024 | all blog |

The firm will implement a comparative study to understand the benefits of the novel combination of bio-stimulants and precision drone technology into a single dynamic conservation approach.

LEESBURG, VA – The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has selected Waterborne Environmental, Inc. (Waterborne) to conduct independent research on the effects of bio-stimulants and low-altitude drone technology on crop production, soil health, and nutrient management throughout the Missouri’s growing season. This groundbreaking study funded under the USDA NRCS Missouri’s Conservation Innovation Grant program, seeks to enhance conservation efforts and promote sustainable agriculture practices in Missouri and throughout the Midwest. It launched September 2023 and will run for 3 years.

This study’s novel approach combines cutting-edge technology with regenerative amendments—bio-stimulants—to potentially compound the impact of conservation practices while providing producers with an economically-beneficial strategy for resilience. Used to stimulate plant nutrient uptake, early crop growth, and stand quality while potentially decreasing fertilizer, bio-stimulants host microbial communities that strengthen the soil’s symbiotic relationship with the plant. By combining bio-stimulants with drones, Waterborne’s scientists, working in partnership with Kbob Custom Applications LLC and Biodyne USA, will capitalize on the technology’s compact size and maneuverability, which offer a unique combination of high spatial resolution and fast turnaround capability that isn’t offered by conventional fertilizer sprayers or full-size aircraft.  This novel research will occur in partnership with Missouri Soybean Association and take place on their Bay Farm Research Facility in Columbia, MO.

“Waterborne is proud to partner with the USDA NRCS to further the adoption of novel conservation practices on Missouri’s farmland,” said Martha Gerig, Ph.D., Waterborne’s lead scientist on this project. “The potential that these two technologies offer in the improvement of soil health and water quality for farmers across the state poses an exciting opportunity to help the NRCS target and optimize their conservation efforts.”

This study will additionally fill a knowledge gap in effective nutrient management strategy currently found within the Midwestern states. As part of this project, Waterborne will provide Missouri farmers and agricultural stakeholders with tools to promote the awareness and adoption of similar technologies in pursuit of improved agricultural production, conservation, water quality, climate smart agriculture, and stewardship throughout the entire state. Data and imagery generated from this work will be directly used to build outreach and educational materials for Missouri’s agricultural community. Additionally, the Waterborne project team will participate in a public-facing field day to showcase the design of the research and its findings, particularly in pursuit of improved and sustainable conservation practices.

According to Gerig, “Waterborne’s goal is to provide our partners with solutions that fit their evolving needs while actively seeking novel ways to increase the quality and resilience of nearby ecosystems. This project embodies our corporate mission and allows Waterborne to sit on the leading edge of innovation.”


Waterborne Environmental Inc. is a global consulting firm that has provided innovative solutions to the world’s most complex environmental problems since 1993. Our seasoned, unbiased scientist and engineering professionals work across industries to mitigate our clients’ ecological, human, and regulatory risks. Working with industry, government, and regulatory bodies, our work balances the needs of a growing population with the potential environmental impact on our precious natural resources.

As a recognized leader in environmental fate, hazard and risk assessment, Waterborne has developed an extensive network of clients and partners in industry, contract research organizations and regulatory agencies in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia.

The company is headquartered in Leesburg, Virginia, with staff in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas.