Date: May 20, 2020
Magazine:
May/June 2020

Nearly five years ago, Western Growers launched its Center for Innovation and Technology (WGCIT), housed in the Taylor Farms building in downtown Salinas. WGCIT brings together the ag industry and firms operating in the technology space to actively work on some of agriculture’s most vexing problems.

At any one time, there are about 50 firms operating in the Center.  Following is a new feature in Western Grower & Shipper designed to keep the produce industry abreast of the work being done by the resident companies. Each issue of Western Grower & Shipper will feature quick updates from some of the resident companies.

AGTools was the winner of the San Diego Angel Conference 2020 and received an investment of $200,000. AgTools is a platform that provides real-time weather, pricing and logistics data in more than 500 specialty crops. The company has positioned itself to play a pivotal role in helping farmers and industry buyers leverage data-based insights with its real-time algorithm designed to offset volatility and improve decision making. The company now offers continually updated information via a customizable and highly efficient dashboard format. By simply looking at a monitor, users can get instant access to information needed to make mission critical decisions.

ApisProtect won the “Start-Up Award” at the recent Annual Think Global Awards held virtually in Dublin, Ireland. ApisProtect was recognized by Think Global for its work using sensor technology and machine learning to monitor the strength of honey bees worldwide. The Think Global Awards recognize achievements and promote the awareness of thinking globally for individuals, communities, start-ups, small and medium sized businesses, global brands and large-scale international organizations.

Bear Flag Robotics is currently serving California growers with autonomous tillage-a-service. Their white hooded machines can be seen helping growers meet their operation goals, through the pandemic uncertainty. Please reach out if Bear Flag can help you.

ChrysaLabs, which has developed a portable, accurate and real-time soil data solution to assess agriculture soil health and fertility, is launching its soil analysis program in California and is looking for beta users to work with them this season.

CSS continues in full production of its H2H fertilizer products during this period of disruption to all our lives. Its latest innovation is its K-plex 0-0-8 organic potassium product. Very recently it was registered for use in California on organic crops. K-plex 0-0-8 is a neutral form of potassium complexed with carboxylic acids which differentiates the efficacy of this product vs. other organic potassium products available. This product has been designed to be foliar or ground applied. It was developed to meet the needs of strawberry, hemp or other crops where increased levels of potassium are needed during plant maturation.

A premier grower, marketer and distributor of fresh produce successfully concluded a grape quality trial with Hazel Technologies. With a proven track record of introducing innovative solutions to the market for decades, Oppy has completed a trial of a new shelf life extension technology from Hazel Technologies with South American red seedless grapes. The goal of the trial was twofold: to achieve greener and more turgid stems, with no signs of shriveled grapes, and to maintain superior storage life under transit and warehouse conditions.

HeavyConnect offers free paperless checklists, binders, and recordkeeping for produce growers and suppliers. FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) compliance is now easier than ever.

iFoodDecisionSciences recently announced the addition of Vic Smith, CEO of JV Smith Company, as the newest addition to its board. The organization continues to partner with companies across the produce industry, providing a comprehensive Food Safety and Quality software platform that empowers their clients with visibility into their operation’s performance from anywhere and on any device, which has been particularly valuable in today’s unique climate. Additionally, iFood equips companies with the ability to capture critical data, enable real-time process controls, track trends, and implement food safety solutions that advance continuous improvement.

Inteligistics is deploying a new, simple system for monitoring and managing truck load times. Some design features include: monitor dock operations in real-time; provide real-time visibility of the time elapsed during loading operation to the forklift operators; improve product staging and shipping monitoring; receive real-time notifications based on defined operation rules; and standardized reporting for critical door operations such as load times, dock utilization and other metrics. This dashboard will show the live status of each loading dock based on door and truck presence detection sensor data. Status and loading time will be displayed in color coded interface based on customer provided thresholds.

As part of its commitment to help the supply chain navigate these uncertain times, iTradeNetwork is inviting WG members to join the new iTradeMarketplace. Launched April 7th, iTradeMarketplace is a forum for buyers, suppliers, packaging companies, logistics operators—any organization in the supply chain—to match available supply with demand, establish relationships, reduce food waste, and add resiliency to their supply chains now and for the future. iTradeMarketplace is free to join, and iTradeNetwork will set up any new trading connections generated from the marketplace free-of-charge for six months.

Irish Agritech firm MagGrow has launched its first presence in the Australia/New Zealand market with the opening of their new offices in Melbourne and Sydney. MagGrow has developed a patented, proprietary technology that significantly reduces waste associated with conventional pesticide applications, delivering important plant protection products where they matter the most.

Naïo Technologies, which is working in the area of agricultural robotics, has begun serving a new crop, that of the sugar beet, by signing a partnership with the German breeder Strube, European seed referent. Encouraging sustainable agriculture through innovation is the objective of this cutting-edge partnership.

COVID-19 SUPPORT - ripe.io, is harnessing its resources and technology to launch the ripeCommunity to connect consumers with COVID-19 impacted food businesses. THE TOOL ripeCommunity is a free online directory built to provide food businesses an accessible, efficient way to create a profile and directly communicate real-time updates on operational hours, pickup/delivery options, food safety precautions, and donation support options to their consumers.

To strengthen food safety during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, SafeTraces, Inc. is offering its groundbreaking saniDART rapid sanitation verification solution for free. While supplies last, the offer is available to a limited number of customers until June 30, 2020. Terms and conditions apply. The SafeTraces’ saniDART is a rapid solution for verifying sanitation effectiveness at a microbial level.

Sapphire Automation has led efficiency optimization in high tech and is now utilizing its sensing and predictive analytics platforms to focus on ag and food. Their software and hardware solutions collect real time production data, machine status, events, cycle time and send alarms. The system works as a stand-alone solution or can sit on-top of existing equipment in a manufacturing or processing facility. Using Sapphire’s Dashboards, users can onsite or remotely monitor the performance of the factory and availability of the assets. Using Machine Learning, IIoT, Cloud and Big Data technology help to improve production efficiencies that will increase volume, quality, profitability and competitive advantage while reducing downtime.

Despite recent challenges faced worldwide, SWIIM has adapted quickly and is able to continue to provide water data essential to farming operations while following new regulations and employing best practices ensuring the safety of our staff, clients, and the global community. Some good news on SWIIM’s front is new videos being posted to our website weekly, including informational pieces and new client testimonials. Please visit swiim.com for more information.

Tailwater Systems has announced new system orders and new funded product development projects in 2020. 2019 was its best year so far and the firm is expecting strong revenue growth in 2020 from its integrated nitrate removal systems. They have also made progress in their “net zero cost nitrate removal” technology. They expect to make announcements at the end of the year about this integrated biorefinery system.

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