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InterSeeder Blazes the Path

The patented InterSeeder represents a new model and way of doing business.
The patented InterSeeder, developed at the College of Agricultural Sciences, allows farmers to handle three tasks at once. Photos by Michael Houtz, CAS

The patented InterSeeder, developed at the College of Agricultural Sciences, allows farmers to handle three tasks at once. Photos by Michael Houtz, CAS

A new machine works the fields of Pennsylvania, 15 other states and Canada. With the patented InterSeeder, farmers can simultaneously fertilize a standing corn or soybean crop, spray herbicide and seed a cover crop.

As agronomy graduate students, Corey Dillon and Chris Houser invented the InterSeeder in 2010, with their advisors and professors Dr. Greg Roth and Dr. William Curran. The machine saves farmers time and money, and helps keep nutrients on the land and out of the water where they become pollutants. 

InterSeeder led Dillon and Houser to new careers as startup business owners. It's also a model for a new way of doing business at the College of Agricultural Sciences that encourages and helps students and faculty create new businesses to realize the full potential of their ideas and research findings.

InterSeeder is envisioned as the first win of many to come: Discoveries and new technologies that provide new jobs and economic growth, return money to the college and hold promise toward solving environmental problems.

Remarkably, just 18 months after its incorporation, InterSeeder Technologies is already doing all of that. The company licenses the technology from Penn State, owner of the initial patent, and returns royalties to the college.

InterSeeder quickly turned a profit and in its first 18 months sold 28 machines, earning $850,000 in sales. Its contract manufacturer in Lancaster had to hire new people and build a new shop to keep up.

Dillon and Houser had some help as they built their prototype machines and wrote their business plan. They won seed money via a Research Applications for Innovation — or “RAIN” grant — from the College of Agricultural Sciences’ Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program.