Date: Sep 08, 2020
Magazine:
September/October 2020

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 an update on some of the firms in the Center designed to keep the produce industry abreast of the work being done by the resident companies. The information below has been provided by the companies. You can reach any of the residents for more information through WGCIT at wginnovation.com.

Selected for Women in Cloud by Microsoft, Agtools will launch worldwide with an enterprise program and different products in September 2020 through Microsoft Marketplace after a successful launch during the annual Microsoft Inspire 2020 convention. Agtools was also selected to the prestigious Larta’s 12th Annual Ag Innovation Showcase whose technologies will shape the future of agriculture. Agtools’ latest product is now operational on several farming operations—live 24/7 data floor screens—on more than 500 commodities.

ApisProtect is launching its commercial product in the U.S. this fall. Are you interested in reducing your beekeeping costs and reducing honeybee losses? Learn more about ApisProtect’s bee monitoring technology at www.apisprotect.com. If you would like to chat to our CEO Dr. Fiona Edwards Murphy or Chief Science Officer Dr. Pádraig Whelan about how this bee monitoring technology can transform your apiary management, please contact us today at enquries@apisprotect.com.

Boost Biomes announced its first Joint development agreement to develop microbial crop fertilizers with Yara International, a global crop nutrition company. Yara also led Boost’s series A investment round. Boost’s first product under development is a biofungicide with proven effectiveness at reducing grey mold, powdery mildew and downy mildew, as well as blue mold post-harvest and other fungal pathogens. Boost Biomes is using the powerful social networks among microbes to provide novel, sustainable solutions to feed and heal people everywhere. There is significant need for new biological, organic, safe biopesticides for crops. The company’s underlying technology enables understanding the causal interactions between microbes, to allow the construction of designer functional multi-microbial products.

ChrysaLabs has developed a real-time and portable soil fertility assessment technology to help growers and agronomists better manage their fertilizer and increase their yield. The team is currently looking for growers and crop consultants that would be interested in participating in the Early Access Program this fall. Growers and agronomists will be asked to use the ChrysaLabs solution during their sampling operations to create a regional soil database, allowing the development of a predictive analytics model. ChrysaLabs is working with different partners across the state, ranging from permanent to row crops. Contact them at info@chrysalabs.com to show your interest.

GeoVisual continues to deliver specialty crop measurement and analysis tools tailored on a company-confidential basis around the way each grower processor operates. With its core foundation built from work with national research agencies such as NASA, USDA, and FFAR, along with collaborations from Western Growers, YCEDA, and engagements with Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal State Monterey Bay, and the University of Arizona, GeoVisual’s data scientists build information focused to help your team tackle what you see as the biggest problems or greatest opportunities. A lean operation funded by family and friends instead of venture capitalists, no money is spent on high-powered sales people or fancy web sites. Instead, we’re boots on the ground backed by top-notch scientists, working side by side with you to build unique tools that make your best people even better.

HeavyConnect is helping growers adapt to the times by providing easy-to-use remote solutions for training, labor management, and food safety compliance in the field. HeavyConnect leads in remote compliance by working with its customers to custom-tailor solutions. This summer, HeavyConnect launched a Training Management tool that makes it simple for managers to digitally comply with labor laws by creating, assigning and monitoring training topics and progress across their entire operation. HeavyConnect is helping growers transition to managing compliance digitally, including remote auditing.

iFoodDecisionSciences has acquired HarvestMark, a leader in traceability and quality solutions with international scope. The combination of iFoodsDS and HarvestMark creates an integrated supply chain solution enabling its customers to continuously improve their food safety, traceability and quality management systems. The company is rapidly growing its team, including the addition of Scott Mathews as CEO reporting to Executive Chair of the Board, Diane Wetherington.

MagGrow, an agtech innovator that specializes in delivering crop protection products where they matter most while protecting the environment, has completed a €6 million Series A round. This was led by impact investor Astanor Ventures and with participation by several strategic international investors, including WakeUp Capital. A number of existing shareholders also contributed to the round. MagGrow is a patented, proprietary technology that significantly reduces waste associated with conventional pesticide spray applications. The company states that 70% of crop protection products when sprayed do not hit or remain on the intended target crop and/or weed. That’s where MagGrow’s science-based technology steps in. It solves the compromise between drift and coverage associated with conventional spraying.

Experts in the wine-growing sector took a new step forward with Naïo Technologies. The Ted robot, which is an innovative weeding solution used by many wine growers, is continuing its fine-tuning. Developed three years ago by Naïo Technologies, a pioneering company in agricultural robotics, Ted is the first autonomous, 100% electric high-clearance tool dedicated to the mechanical weeding of vines. The robot has quickly generated strong interest in the wine-growing sector. More than 20 Teds are now working in various vineyards. One of the newer users is the Bernard Magrez Estate which has developed a four-year partnership with Naïo Technologies to perfect a robot capable of carrying out the majority of the soil maintenance work among the vines.

Novihum Technologies made news this month with the power of its patented soil solutions. The company reports it achieved “fantastic results” by researchers at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research & Extension Center in Uvalde, Texas during a multi-year research program. Center Director Dr. Daniel Leskovar and his PhD student Kuan Qin published two peer-reviewed articles this summer about the benefits of using NOVIHUM in field watermelon production, and to the vigor and resilience of pepper, tomato, watermelon, and lettuce seedlings. Significantly higher yields, improved water use efficiency, and reduced transplant shock were among their findings.

Skyx: Spray your farm at the push of a button. Skyx delivers a complete, ready to go, spraying solution based on their proprietary technology on spraying drones. Skyx presents an autonomous swarm that covers farms fast and precise, or “spot spray” zones in the farm to reduce chemicals. In addition to autonomy and spot spraying, they lower spraying operational and service costs and boost availability and safety. The company offers growers the ability to purchase the entire solution, or to invite them to apply spraying as a service. Skyx’s Californian operation started earlier this year, and its proposition is commercially available.

SWIIM continues to make advancements with its reporting and user dashboard features, including enhanced alerts which notify growers as soon as they appear to be under- or over-irrigating. Additionally, the team will be releasing Version 2.0 of the on-farm dashboard in the fall. It will include a new visual experience providing for easier access to common features and the ability to assign field-level water budgets which will be tracked throughout the season. We have announced the launch of SWIIM Certification, designed to highlight farmers who have been committed to responsible water use on their agriculture operation. Growers must be approved by SWIIM to post the certification on their products or in their marketing materials. The SWIIM Certified logo on a field or product will tell consumers that it was grown with the upmost respect for our most precious resource, water. We also have announced the release of “SWIIM Software as a Service” offering, which requires no new equipment.

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