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  • Automation in Ag

Western Growers Global Harvest Automation Initiative

Posted on April 14, 2021 10:26 AM by WGCIT

On February 11, Western Growers officially rolled out its Global Harvest Automation Initiative – a series of projects that aim to automating 50 percent of harvest throughout the specialty crop industry within 10 years.

The global initiative is comprised of several key projects uniquely designed to solve the ag industry’s labor woes while simultaneously helping harvest automation start-up companies commercialize and scale at a more rapid pace:

  • Technology Stack: A documented set of technical interfaces that will help startups leverage industry-standard components so their robots can get into fields and markets faster.
  • Harvest Automation Cohort: A cohort of automation startups will be selected based on industry input to receive exclusive access to systems integration to help integrate the tech stack into their product roadmap, strategy for go-to-market support, field trials and case studies.
  • Impact Report: A comprehensive analysis on the impact of harvest automation on the specialty crop industry will be provided annually based on grower metrics.
  • Harvest Automation Traction Roadmap: A list of current harvest automation startups by crop type and in-market progress/traction will be distributed regularly.

Below are resources for additional information about the GHAI:

  • GHAI Launch Event:
    • Livestream Recording: The full recording of the launch event, segmented by each event, can be found on Western Growers’ YouTube Channel here.
      • Includes analysis and updates on the following topics:
        • State of labor in the specialty crop industry
        • The Global Harvest Automation Initiative
        • In-Depth Panels: Tech and Grower
        • Update/Analysis: Automation, Global Scale, Tech Stack, Software/AI, UK-US Startups, France-US Startups, Robots, Drones, New Zealand Startups
    • Event Images: Images from the launch event can be found on the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology’s Facebook page here.
  • WG Stories & Blogs:
    • WG Automation Initiative: What it Means for Entrepreneurs and Startups
      The Global Harvest Automation Initiative will provide several benefits for entrepreneurs and startups. Full Story.
    • WG to Advance Harvest Automation through Global Initiative
      A recap of the official launch of the Global Harvest Automation Initiative, a hybrid in-person and livestreamed event that was comprised of in-depth panels and keynote addresses. Full Story.
    • AgriFoodTech Alchemy Issue 13 — Global Harvest Automation Initiative Launch
      The GHAI launch was the culmination of an almost two year effort with a lot of great partners on this journey of harvest automation. It represents a finish line and a start line at the same time. Full Blog.
  • Press Releases:
    • Western Growers Launches Global Harvest Automation Initiative 
      Groundbreaking initiatiative aims to accelerate ag automation by 50 percent in 10 years. Full Press Release.
  • News Articles:
    • Farm Labor Crunch Leads U.S. Produce Growers to Turn to Robots (Bloomberg)
      After grappling with worker shortages on U.S. farms for more than a decade, one group says they have a solution: automation. Full Story.
    • Western Growers Launches Global Harvest Initiative (Pacific Northwest Ag Network)
      Last month, Western Growers announced it was spearheading a Global Harvest Automation Initiative. Full Story. 
    • Ag Industry to Streamline Development of Harvest Automation Technology (AgNetWest)
      An effort led by Western Growers looks to speed up the development and implementation of harvest automation technology. Full Story. 
    • Western Growers Launches Global Harvest Initiative (AndNowYouKnow)
      The importance of technology and innovation in the fresh produce industry is something that continues to increase at a rapid pace. Full Story. 
    • Tech collaboration to build robot building blocks (Good Fruit Grower)
      Western Growers launches initiative to accelerate development of viable automated harvest technologies for specialty crops, from apples to strawberries. Full Story. 
    • Western Growers to lead global push to automate fruit harvests (Farm Press)
      A West Coast produce organization wants to teach the specialty-crop world how to automate its harvests, and a tree fruit group in Washington state has pledged $200,000 toward the effort. Full Story.
    • Automated harvests a game-changer for ag (Farm Press)
      Could Western Growers, university initiatives herald the biggest revolution in ag since the motorized combine? Full Story.
    • Ag tech innovations expand as farms continue search for labor savings (Agri-Pulse)
      The intersection of increasing labor shortages, higher pay for agricultural workers, and new attention to employee safety is highlighting efforts to bring labor-saving technologies to specialty crop fields. Full Story.
    • Western Growers announces harvest automation initiative with tree fruit industry support (Good Fruit Grower)
      On Feb. 11, Western Growers announced a plan to accelerate development of harvest automation technology across high-value specialty crops. Full Story.
    • When the robots arrive, what happens to farmworkers? (Farm Press)
      In a political environment in which equity issues are front and center, when Western Growers and three West Coast land-grant universities announced parallel efforts to automate specialty-crop harvests, the question was bound to come. Full Story.
    • Harvest automation will happen in stages, experts say (Farm Press)
      As two major West Coast initiatives seek to automate up to half of specialty-crop harvests within the next 10 years, tree fruit and other growers may start by automating portions of the task. Full Story.

For more information on the GHAI, contact Walt Duflock or Dennis Donohue.