IRVINE, Calif. (October 19, 2016) – Western Growers (WG) has chosen the final six start-up companies who will be competing for invaluable resources to support their growing businesses and advance the development of their innovative technologies that will be crucial to the sustainability of agriculture.
Nearly 50 startup companies applied to compete in this year’s Innovation Arena, more than doubling last year’s total of 20 applicants. After being carefully reviewed by WG’s Food Safety/Science & Technology Subcommittee, six were selected and will now advance to compete at the 91st WG Annual Meeting on November 8, 2016, in Hawaii.
“This is only the second year that Western Growers has hosted the Innovation Arena competition, and the significant increase in the level of interest from startups to participate just demonstrates the type of positive impact we are having in the development of agtech,” said Hank Giclas, WG’s Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning, Science & Technology. “Through events like the Innovation Arena and our Center for Innovation & Technology, we look forward to further connecting these innovative companies with the resources they need to help solve the industry’s most pressing challenges.”
Each company will pitch their ideas and technologies to the audience and a panel of agricultural industry leaders. Two winners will be chosen to receive a complimentary one-year membership with Western Growers and an opportunity to work with the WG Center for Innovation & Technology in Salinas, Calif. Benefits include prominent networking opportunities with leading fresh produce companies; ample exposure to agricultural-related organizations throughout California, Arizona and Colorado; training and mentorship from industry professionals, including legal, HR, insurance, financial and communications experts; and more.
The six start-up companies selected to compete are as follows:
Agralogics: Agralogics’ Enhanced Irrigation Management technology uses directly observed evapotranspiration to generate real-time irrigation work orders, analyze information from multiple sources on dashboards and enable comparative analytics to improve irrigation efficiency. The technology can observe evapotranspiration anywhere on the planet, on a field-by-field basis and without the need for any sensors.
California Safe Soil: California Safe Soil recycles food from supermarkets that can no longer be sold or donated, converting it into Harvest-to-Harvest fertilizer (H2H), for use in commercial and organic fertilizer and feed and retail lawn and garden markets. New technology—using heat, mechanical action and enzymes— converts a heterogenous food feedstock into a homogenous, high-nutrient liquid fertilizer that stimulates the growth of soil organisms, increasing soil organic matter.
CropX: CropX provides an integrated hardware and software solution for soil moisture monitoring. CropX integrates proven reliable soil moisture measuring hardware with a robust cellular communication system and state of the art mobile applications to create a soil moisture measurement system that is simple, affordable and actionable. CropX offers volumetric soil water sensors that seamlessly connect to the internet, are easy to relocate from field to field and which transmit data to the cloud and onto any connected device providing near real time measurement of soil conditions.
DeepLook: DeepLook builds weeding robots that can go through the field autonomously, distinguish weed from the crop and mechanically remove weeds. DeepLook uses no chemicals and almost zero labor time, thus giving back both time and money to farmers. Vegetable farms who used to rely on manual weeding now have an organic, affordable and scalable alternative. One of the robots can weed up to 4 acres a day and cost only around $50k, which makes it a very competitive alternative for current weeding processes in U.S. vegetable farms.
Harvest CROO Robotics: Harvest CROO Robotics is developing a fully autonomous robotic harvester for fresh strawberries. Strawberry growers will benefit from having a reliable cost effective way to harvest their crops. An automated strawberry harvester would also benefit growers of other crops that are suffering from this shortage by freeing up available labor. The business model is to lease machines to growers on a per box basis to emulate how they do business now, which is to pay humans a piece-rate.
Trace Genomics: Trace Genomics has launched a genetic test for soil microbes to give growers an unprecedented look into the biology of their soil. Trace Genomics makes it easy for any grower to send in a soil sample and, within just a few weeks, receive an actionable report on both beneficial and harmful microbes that are found in the sample. The information provided by the Trace Genomics test provides the foundational knowledge that enables growers to evaluate their soils for disease pressures, microbial diversity indices that are associated with soil health and resilience, and efficacy of various cultural practices and soil amendment products.
For full details about the competition, visit the WG’s Innovation Arena website.
About Western Growers:
Founded in 1926, Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California and Colorado. Our members and their workers provide half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, including half of America’s fresh organic produce. For generations we have provided variety and healthy choices to consumers. Connect with and learn more about Western Growers on our Twitter and Facebook.