Silicon Prairie News Minute: Swinegard, MichineryLink Sharing and Tethon 3D

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Jim: Ryan, I know that we have come up will all kinds of high tech gadgets to keep our kids safe, but are there now devices for little baby pigs too?

Ryan: Swineguard is a company that is currently going through the Iowa Startup Accelerator, and they are trying to solve the problem of mother pigs lying down on their babies. They actually have a device that listens to particular squeals from the pigs, and it then uses a belt to lift the mother up so the piglet can escape.

Jim: How common is this problem?

Ryan: The problem is actually a pretty big one. Over 13 million piglets die every year from being laid on by their mothers, with a reveneue loss of $689 million.

If you’d like to know more about exactly how the system works, go to and click on our Startups section.

Jim: So I have some farm equipment that I might not be using now, well, not me, but a friend…you know..are there some options now for me to make a little coin on the side with idling equipment?

Ryan:  You may be familiar with Airbnb, which allows people to share homes. MachineryLink Sharing, put out by FarmLink, is just like that, only for farm equipment. Say you’re a farmer with a tractor you aren’t using. You can post that on MachineryLink Sharing, and another farmer who needs that can rent out your equipment.

Jim:  It seems like farmers might be kind of attached to their equipment. Do you really think they are going to share?

Ryan: They recognize that is a hurdle for them to overcome, and they’ve only just started the program, so time will tell. The important thing to remember is that farmers are in the commodity business where the margins really matter. Saving a little here or there can make a big difference.

To learn more about MachineryLink Sharing, look for our recent story on, just click on the “Startups” section.

Jim: Ryan, I am hearing a lot about 3D printing these days, but how has it grown beyond schools and enthusiasts?

Ryan:  Tethon 3D is an Omaha-based company that is one of the few places that does ceramic 3D printing. The great thing about ceramic printing is that it’s naturally environmentally friendly. So Tethon was contacted by some oyster farmers in Cape Cod, to develop a platform where they could reboot oyster colonies.

Jim: Is there any way to see this 3D printing in action?

Ryan: We actually have a video of the 3D ceramic printer making these platforms on our site. Go to the Startup Section of SPN and look for “Tethon.”

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