Mining for Microbes & Microfauna Competition

SATURDAY, MAY 18, 2019

We challenged teams to create an agBOT that can gather soil samples and prepare them for diagnostic evaluation of microorganisms. Watch these autonomous robots accurately maneuver to soil sections while providing real-time observation of movement, location and collection.


The Mining for Microflora and Microfauna Competition challenges teams to create an autonomous machine capable of navigating a field, collecting a soil sample, prepping and storing a sample for microscopic evaluation of microflora and microfauna. Teams may use a variety of solutions, combine elements of solutions in different markets and/or create innovative solutions designed for their machine.

Contact for details on submitting a proposal to compete.

Site Conditions

  • Silty clay loam with conventional tillage (sod if too wet for tilled soil)


Produce an unmanned, autonomous machine that will achieve the following goals. Teams will be scored in Mechanics, Software, Innovative Solution, and Execution


  • Autonomously and accurately maneuver through a predetermined sampling section of 30 yards and take 3 samples at sites 10 yards apart.
  • Autonomously collect a sample at a soil depth of 0-10 inches.
  • Map soil collection and label sample.
  • Autonomously separate microfauna and microflora from the soil. The organisms to capture are within the 4-20 micron size range.
  • Autonomously prepare for diagnostic evaluation and storage.
  • Provide real-time observation methods of autonomous movement, location, and soil collection.
  • More details To Be Announced (TBA)


  • Teams may choose to compete in one or both competitions.
  • Applicants may begin submitting proposals October 30, 2018. When team roster is at capacity for both competitions, proposals will no longer be accepted. All proposals will be accepted, denied or wait-listed within 10 days of receipt.
  • Devices must have a functional “kill switch” in case of emergency.
  • Teams must be present for NextGen Expo on May 16, 2019.
  • $2,500 entry fee; deposit of $1,000 to be returned upon physical attendance to competition.
  • Teams are not required to be associated with an organization and/or university. There is no limit on age or number of team members.
  • At least one member of the team is required to attend the event and present results with or without a machine.
  • Teams may use a variety of solutions in any market and/or innovative solutions created by the team.
  • Teams are required to have a one-on-one virtual project-review session with agBOT producers during Checkpoints. Teams may schedule directly with Rachel Gerrish for a time slot during the Checkpoint days.

*Rules may be modified by the agBOT organizers at any time. Cash prizes and judges to be announced by April 15, 2019.


For more details or to sign your team up email