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The WGCIT Agtech Blog

Agtech innovators. WGCIT stories.

  • Forbes AgTech Summit, Wells Fargo Scholarship

What our Innovators are Reading Right Now

Posted on July 19, 2017 13:11 PM by WGCIT

AgTech Provides Food for Thought

The Californian, Tom Leyde

Last month Forbes Magazine announced its list of the top 25 agtech startups at its annual Agtech Summit in Salinas. The startups’ specialties range from crop tracking and shelf life extension to satellite imaging and soil pathogen detection.

Two of the top Forbes 25 are represented at the Western Growers Innovation and Technology Center is Salinas, which has 37 startups represented. They are SWIIM, coming it at number 23, and Trace Genomics, coming it at number 25.


JV Smith Co. CEO receives Forbes Impact award

The Packer, Tom Karst

Western Growers chairman and Duda Farm Fresh Foods senior vice president Sammy Duda presented Smith with the award June 29, praising his vision and leadership as a Western Growers board member.

“He has really been a proponent and leader, pushing us into innovation and technology to meet the challenges of our industry — and he is one of the reasons we are having this event today,” Duda said. “Like (Taylor Farms CEO) Bruce Taylor, he has invested a lot of time, money and effort to improve the ecosystem that will improve automation.” …Duda also said Smith has an ability to break down barriers to help keep the industry working together, particularly his advocacy of the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology in Salinas.


Help Wanted in the Vineyards 

The Daily Yonder: Keep it Rural, Diana R. Gordon  

Increasing automation may counter some of the labor shortage, as it has in other agricultural areas. Dennis Donahue, who leads the Western Growers Association Center for Innovation and Technology, recently told Public Radio International that robots are the future of agriculture for some tasks. “R2-D2 is going to be doing the weeding,” he said.


AgTech startups to benefit from Wells Fargo grant to Western Growers in Salinas

Monterey Herald, James Herrera

The Wells Fargo Foundation has awarded Western Growers a $30,000 grant for a second consecutive year to further advance the efforts of agricultural technology startup companies through a scholarship to the Grower’s agtech incubator in Salinas.

“Western Growers and the Center for Innovation and Technology are most appreciative of the generous award from the Wells Fargo Foundation to support our agtech innovation efforts,” said Hank Giclas, Western Growers’ senior vice president, strategic planning, science and technology, in a press release. “Their support will be key in providing the resources needed to support startups innovating technological solutions to the ag industry’s most pressing issues.”

The grant was presented at the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology, an agriculture technology incubator in Oldtown Salinas, during the 2017 Forbes AgTech Summit last week.


 Western Growers earns second $30K AgTech Innovation Grant

The King City Rustler

“Wells Fargo is proud to continue its support to Western Growers and the Center for Innovation and Technology,” said Ashley Grosh, Vice President and Manager of Environmental Philanthropy for Wells Fargo. “The business support and launch pad services these entrepreneurs are receiving through this program is a critical step to ensuring these important agriculture technologies have a strategic path to the commercial market.”


Tom Nunes, V: The Best Labor Solutions Are When Everyone Wins

Growing Produce, Carol Miller

Precision Ag Technology Vital to Future Labor Stability

Harvest is probably the most costly aspect of labor, Nunes says. But technology is offering a way forward. …The price tag involved with improved harvest equipment, thinners, and other technology can be steep, and unaffordable to many growers. That’s where collaboration with other growers becomes key, Nunes says.

“It’s not always easy for individual firms to have the reserves to invest in R&D, so working together is very important in trying to move our industry forward,” he says.

He’s a big fan of the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology, which brings together growers and agricultural technology companies to develop tools that fill real-world needs for vegetable producers.

It’s a process, Nunes says, that needs growers to combine their resources to advance. And that’s something the industry does well.

“It’s been well documented over the years that we work together in times of need. One of the wonderful things to see is that a lot of the [companies] Nunes competes against in the same commodities are family-run and committed to our industry and the environment and work together collaboratively to try to move our industry along,” he says.

Nunes believes vegetable growers are in the midst of a time that calls for growers to combine forces and make some of the changes that will improve everyone’s lot.


How This AgTech Startup Is Giving Farmers Insight Into Their Soil's Health

Forbes Magazine, Alex Knapp 

AgTech startup Trace Genomics began offering their custom soil health kit to farmers about a year ago. Their aim? To give their customers insights into how healthy their soil is. Its process is pretty simple - a farmer orders a kit, takes a little sample of their soil, and sends it back. The company then sequences the DNA it finds in the soil, which lets them ascertain what kinds of microbes are present there.

A lot of decisions that farmers make, says cofounder Diane Wu, are based on what microbes are present in the soil. "Knowing the information around the healthy, beneficial and the pathogenic microbes are critical to being able to inform those decisions."