Purple Plow Challenge



The Purple Plow Challenge encourages students grades 5-12 to research scenarios related to food, hunger and sustainability and build their own prototypes to solve the defined problem. Resources provided for facilitators, students and volunteers are written by teachers, aligned to national learning standards and reviewed by industry experts.


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Current Challenge:

Go with the Flow

Challenge Question: How can we improve the quality of our runoff and, in turn, reduce dead zones in our water resources?

When water flows over land, it is called surface runoff, and it is an important part of the water cycle, but have you ever wondered where your runoff is running off to? What’s in your runoff? What is the runoff doing to the environment once it has settled? Around the world, there are more than 400 dead zones in oceans and lakes, where the water contains so little oxygen that aquatic life can no longer survive. In this challenge, students will learn about the impact of runoff in rural and urban areas and its effects on the environment as well as plan for solutions to this growing issue of dead zones, hypoxia, and overall water quality.

Past challenges:

Growing Green 

Farms consume energy both directly through the use of diesel, electricity, propane, natural gas and renewable fuels as well as in directly through the use of fuel in the production of fertilizers, pesticides and feedstock. In this challenge, students will learn about energy in various forms, build and share a solution that diversifies energy consumption.

Protect the Pollinators

Due to multiple global factors, the pollinator population is decreasing causing problems for our food system. Through this challenge, students will become more aware of the important role pollinators play in our daily lives and how to help protect the various populations. After thoughtful research, students will design, test and demonstrate a solution that will sustain or improve pollinator well-being.

Cattle Ranch Riddle

Every day, cattle ranching families are trying to raise a healthy and safe product, while maintaining a profitable business and being stewards of natural resources. How will you construct a model of a cattle ranch that addresses these concerns?

Farm to Food Truck Challenge

Americans enjoy an affordable and abundant food supply thanks to farming and ranching families. Every year, one U.S. farm feeds 168 people. How does that food get from the farm to our plates? What people are involved in the process? Learn the story behind our food firsthand by designing a farm to food truck!

Save the Soil! 

In the United States alone, we are losing at least 3 billion tons of topsoil a year to erosion! Without topsoil, our land becomes a desert and is not capable of producing food. Students will design, test, and demonstrate a solution that reduces topsoil erosion for their unique location or situation to help conserve prodcutive soil. 

See other past challenges. These include "H2Grow" a hydroponics challenge and "Room 2 Grow" a garden structure challenge. Facilitator guides, student guides and content guides are available for past challenges!


Short on time? Also make sure to check out the Purple Plow Puzzlers!


Puzzlers are hands-on STEM activities that can be completed in 1-2.5 hours. Puzzlers sharpen critical and creative thinking through agricultural-related activities. They follow the “create, test & improve, and share” steps in the Purple Plow engineering design process


The Purple Plow Challenge is special project brought to you by The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture (AFBFA) and made possible through generous support of our title sponsor, Corteva Agriscience. 

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