A crowd of nearly 150 people attended AgTechX – Harris Ranch on Tuesday to hear about the types of challenges farmers are facing in the Central Valley and discuss new technologies needed to help solve those issues.
AgTechX—an event bringing together farmers, academia and technologists to discuss innovation—kicked off with a farm tour where representatives from Amazon, Yamaha, Voyage Automation in Silicon Valley and startups from WG’s Center for Innovation & Technology (WGCIT) heard from farmers about the types automation they are in need of. The group visited Garrett Patricio of Westside Produce to hear about challenges with growing and harvesting melons, as well as toured Woolf Farming’s tomato processing plant with Stuart Woolf to learn about technology that has been utilized in his plant.
The small group joined all other attendees at Harris Ranch to hear panel sessions with Central Valley farmers on local ag challenges; farmers and technologists on automation; and leaders from Silicon Valley on data, broadband and connectivity. The challenges of connectivity was a common discussion among the panelists of all three panels.
“We are trying to operate a business in the field, but sometimes it’s challenging because we don’t have stable cell signal and connectivity,” said Don Cameron of Terranova Ranch during the automation panel. “We need broadband across the farm. We need help.”
AgTechX – Harris Ranch also featured an innovation showcase and fast pitches from agtech start-up companies housed in the WG Center for Innovation & Technology. The luncheon culminated in a keynote address from T.J. Rogers on the development of water technology and digitization of ag.
This event is part of the WG Center for Innovation & Technology’s key focus to bringing agricultural technologies to farmers. The first “backyard innovation” event launched in Brawley on February 8 and traveled to Parlier in the Central Valley on May 8. The next AgTechX will be held in Delano, California, in September.
“Events like these and a forum like this allows us to speak about the automation, innovation and engineering needed to accomplish and overcome the ag labor challenge,” said Garrett Patricio of Westside Produce during the Central Valley growers’ panel.
This event was sponsored by Netafim, West Hills College, California Community Colleges, Waterbit, UC ANR and Harris Ranch. All event images can be found here on the WG Center for Innovtaion & technology’s Facebook page.