WASHINGTON D.C. – The Bureau of Reclamation has selected phase one winners for the Veg Out prize competition seeking sustainable solutions to manage aquatic vegetation in canals. Winning ideas will share in a total prize purse of $345,000.
This challenge aims to reduce the cost and labor of aquatic vegetation management in canals throughout Reclamation while minimizing impacts on water quality and downstream users. The challenge seeks to identify, develop, and test novel, sustainable, scalable solutions that can be used across a range of canal types.
“The phase one winning solutions present interesting ideas that could provide effective tools for integrated pest management of aquatic vegetation in canals.,” said Scott O’Meara, botanist, Bureau of Reclamation. “We are excited to see how these ideas develop into prototypes in the next phase of the competition.”
The primary methods for vegetation management in canals include mechanical and chemical processes both of which have drawbacks. Mechanical methods are costly, labor-intensive, can disrupt embankments, and create debris and sedimentation issues. Chemical options are limited for aquatic environments, and while less labor-intensive than mechanical methods, they can be costly, unsafe, and present undesirable downstream effects.
Phase one winners
- AquaInject, Where IoT Meets Vegetation Control, Trent Lewis – $50,000 The AquaInject utilizes "IoT" technology to remotely monitor and control treatments without an applicator or technician needed onsite.
- Electric Macrophytes Management Solution, Shawn Kozak – $50,000 Low voltage intermittent electrical current is used as a method to disrupt seedling and sprout root growth in aquatic environments.
- Packaged Herbicides for More Efficient Control, Jan Beetge – $50,000 Existing herbicides are formulated and packaged in a new format that will allow more efficient herbicide utilization and absorption into plants.
- Directed Energy Aquatic Defoliation-DEAD, Jonathan Jackson – $5,000
By building on previous directed energy weed control, the team will use directed energy to control aquatic nuisance plant with minimal modifications.
- Genilec Global Solution, Vincent Leroux – $5,000
A large coverage robotic solution will be developed using a collection system, working platform, and transport system.
In the next phase competitors that advanced will develop their prototypes and complete early small-scale testing. The third and final phase will require competitors to complete recorded and live demonstrations of their solution in a canal or in a controlled environment to show solution functionality and ability to meet competition criteria.
Reclamation is partnering with NASA Tournament Lab and HeroX on this competition. For more information on this challenge, visit www.usbr.gov/research/challenges/vegout.html
Reclamation conducts prize competitions to spur innovation by engaging a non-traditional, problem-solver community. Please visit Reclamation's Prize Competition Center to learn more.