The UMD Professor was recognized for his work to improve soil health and food production, particularly in Africa.
Image Credit: Edwin Remsberg
FoodShot Global named Ray Weil one of three 2022 GroundBreaker Prize winners, awarding him $240,000 for his work at the intersection of bioactive foods, precision protein, and soil innovations to improve human nutrition.
Weil, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Technology is a global leader in soil science. He has made numerous contributions to the understanding of nutrient cycling, soil organic matter and ecological approaches to soil management, soil health and water quality. With this award, FoodShot Global recognizes Weil’s research on the connection between soil sulfur and key amino acids that affect the growth and protein content of crops, especially in Africa.
“I'm humbled and excited to have been awarded the FoodShoot Global Groundbreaker prize. It really feels like a validation of my life's work to improve agriculture for farmers, eaters, and the planet,” said Weil. “The substantial prize money is also very welcome as it will enable me to pursue a line of work that seems to always fall through the cracks between most sources of food system research funds. Of all the fertilizer elements, sulfur is almost always ignored and forgotten. Yet it is crucial to building the amino acids that people need for healthful, nutritious plant-based protein.”
The prize will help Weil develop innovative management practices that use indigenous resources and plant diversity to help soils and agroecosystems provide crops with enough sulfur, which is an essential plant macronutrient. The goal of Weil’s work is to increase crop yields and farmer income, while also enhancing the amino acid profiles – and hence the nutritional quality – of the protein in legumes such as bean, peanut, cowpea and soybean.
“These GroundBreakers represent the bold ideas and innovation needed to make food a solution to improving human and planetary health,” said FoodShot Global Founder and Chairman Victor Friedberg. “Perhaps most important, the winners are leveraging partnerships, science, and technology in a way that makes the food system more equitable and ensures nutrition security at a global level.”
A New York-Based, non-profit, capital investment platform, FoodShot Global catalyzes innovation for a healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable food system. The FoodShot Global network of venture funds, banks, corporations, universities, and foundations provides winning entrepreneurs and researchers with industry expertise, investment and other resources to support science and technology development, address commercialization and scale-up needs, and maximize the impact of innovative solutions.