We have a problem. Can you solve it?

Nitrogen pollution is a significant issue facing the environment: Across the U.S. and many parts of the world, large scale farming operations are applying excessive amounts of fertilizers and the unprecedented excess of nitrogen resulting from these farming practices contributes to coastal dead zones, impaired drinking water supplies, degraded fisheries and recreational areas, and risks to human health.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is working with InnoCentive, the global leader in open innovation solutions, to try to find and develop solutions to the this pressing environmental issue (especially from agriculture).

We recently launched the Eco Challenge Series – an initiative in partnership with InnoCentive to work with companies to identify and solve environmental challenges.  We recently took the first step by putting up rewards to solve two challenges related to EDF’s agriculture work.

On Wednesday, EDF’s first Challenge – EDF – Nitrate Capture System – to reduce nitrogen pollution closed its submission period.  In case you haven’t been following the progress, the challenge is an Ideation Challenge – the point was to gather as many possible great ideas as we could on a method for filtering nitrates out of irrigation effluent in tile drain systems.

The Challenge has a prize purse of $7500, and the final winning submission will be selected and posted at the end of August.   The final tally: 244 people signed up to attempt to solve the challenge and we ultimately received more than 40 complete submissions.  These 244 solvers are a part of InnoCentive’s global network of 250,000+ individuals representing 200+ countries world-wide.

This is an exciting step, and we are thrilled about the number of submissions that have come in.  EDF plans to work with our internal staff as well as with external partners and colleagues to pick the submission with the best possible chance for dramatically improving the environmental footprint of nitrogen fertilization.

We’ll be providing additional updates on the process and the outcome as we proceed towards the final selection in August.

In the meantime, please consider becoming a solver!  To do so, take a look at our pavilion and in particular the remaining nitrogen-related challenge to find a solution to farmers’ needs for good on-demand aerial imagery here.  It has a purse prize of $15,000, and the deadline for submissions is August 13th.