Awards Registry

Budbreak Delay Gel Technology for Frost Management and Mechanization of Vineyards
Profile last edited on: 5/26/2022

Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Principal Investigator
Manfredo Seufferheld
Activity Indicator

Location Information

FrostDefense Envirotech Inc

60 Hazelwood Drive
Champaign, IL 61820
   (217) 979-3052
Multiple Locations:   
Congressional District:   13
County:   Champaign

Phase I

Phase I year
Phase I Amount
The broader impact/commercial potential of this Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project is to create value for grape farmers by reducing crop damage from frost by delaying the time when the buds break in spring. The innovation proposed will reduce the costs of frost management, decrease yield loss, and improve quality. Delaying bud break will also assist in labor management by increasing the operating window for optimal shoot removal. Grapes are the highest value fruit crop in the U.S. and the sixth largest crop globally. Grape production is highly influenced by the weather, with frost damage among the top weather hazards. Success in the grape market opens the door to deployment with many other fruit crops.This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will allow grape growers to reduce frost damage and maximize resources for mechanization. This approach integrates many studies, including: biophysical and biochemical factors influencing the endogenous regulation of bud break, resistance to cold injury, and polymer sciences. Preliminary studies indicate the ability to resist wet conditions and regulate bud break by 10 to 14 days. If the aims of this project are achieved, the technology will contribute significantly to farmers? abilities to cope with present and future threats of spring frost, with current mechanization and available labor limitations, and will be the foundation for continued innovation in tools that address current and emerging challenges of climate change. The project will demonstrate the feasibility of the spray through a series of in situ applications with partners in Washington and Illinois. In addition, the project will launch data analytics studies to guide the application timing of bud break delay technology by testing sensors for farm microclimate data acquisition and gaining access to critical data sources.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Phase II

Phase II year
2022 (last award dollars: 2022)
Phase II Amount
The broader impact of this SBIR Phase II project is to allow America’s grape industry to reduce crop losses due to spring frost, estimated at over $1 billion per year, as well as related job losses – more than 11,000 individuals in the State of Washington alone. The encapsulating bud break delay technology and predictive analytics support farmers with decision making tools ahead of impending frost events during bud break season. Such tools may enable rural communities to achieve economic stability by decreasing yield losses and lowering production costs. The technology fills gaps in knowledge needed to make informed decisions on individual farms, resulting in better management decisions in the face of increasing complexities of spring freeze threats. Additionally, use of the encapsulation technology may reduce carbon emissions and water usage from current fossil fuel-intensive conventional frost mitigation measures such as burners, wind machines and sprinklers.The proposed encapsulating bud break delay technology involves two main advances. First, a gel encapsulation spray biologically delays the process of bud break consistently up to 14 days and increases cold resistance up to 6 degrees Celsius. Second, to guide growers in delivering this product, a Decision Support System (DSS) aids grape growers in deciding when it is necessary to mitigate pending frost conditions. The Phase II project focuses on increasing the predictive accuracy of the DSS and scaling the system. Specifically, the team will focus on: a) optimizing the formulation and testing in the lab, b) field-testing and data collection at five sites, c) enhancing DSS capabilities with additional data and analysis, d) scaling up for large-scale manufacture and application, and e) gathering data for regulatory approvals. This gel encapsulation solution for frost protection of vineyards may find future applications in other fruits crops such as apples and stones fruits that are even more susceptible to spring frost damage than grapes.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.