March 15, 2022

Update from Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology

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.

Below is update from some of the startups housed in the WGCIT.


Agtools has recruited more computer science engineers from the rural areas of California and Washington state. All of the company’s engineers come from families in the agricultural industry and have worked at harvesting crops or have worked in packing houses. Agtools now has more than four billion reliable, verified, curated datasets of specialty crops from the United States and around the world. Research teams lead by agricultural scientists from the U.S. and Mexico have reviewed all phenological stages and embedded those stages in Agtools to provide better forecasting for customers. Subscription renewals by customers are always welcome, especially when those customers are from different parts of the world.

Boost Biomes

Boost Biomes is developing high-performance microbiome products sourced from the native biodiversity of relevant natural environments. The company takes biologicals to the next level: ecology. The company believes its unique approach overcomes traditional limitations of microbial and biological crop inputs. Its first product is a biofungicide that prevents diseases like powdery mildew, downy mildew and botrytis. In more than 30 field trials in grapes, the win rate is greater than 85 percent and when used alone it is often as effective as a standard Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practice. The product is expected to come to market late in 2022. To learn about grower trials (especially in grapes) for the 2022 season, contact: [email protected].

Clean Works Inc. (Biomax Microbes)

Clean Works Inc. has launched a new website, Jim McClain, owner of the company, believes understanding and knowing how the soil works will help growers better understand their crops and what they need to thrive. Soil health gets to the root of the problem, and he says the company’s product will help growers decrease chemical fertilizer use and improve water efficiency. “Our microbes will kick-start your soil and get it back on the right track so your crops will grow in higher quantities and have higher quality,” he said on the company’s website. He said the microbes are essentially feeding the soil and storing nutrients for future crops vs. putting fertilizer down every year for that one crop. He urges growers to reach out to him to start a conversation: [email protected].

Hummingbird Technologies

Hummingbird Technologies has hired Cody Ruiz as a trials and operations manager. Ruiz brings a wealth of experience in the fresh produce industry. Hummingbird is an artificial intelligence business that provides advanced crop analysis to its customers by using proprietary machine learning algorithms applied to remote sensing captured imagery. Hummingbird generates variable rate fertilizer applications to increase the uniformity of plant sizes across the field before peak nitrogen uptake. These applications are delivered through side-dressers and allow growers to reduce nitrogen usage by up to 70 percent while increasing yield by up to 10 percent. Hummingbird has been working with selected partners in California and Mexico over the past year and is expanding its trials network for 2022.


iFoodDS has launched its new Shelf Life Monitoring Solution. It allows users to capture the data they need to verify that their produce meets buyer shelf life requirements. The solution helps monitor fresh food deterioration and manage variability over time. Available as a standalone solution or bundled with iFoodDS Quality Insights, it is highly configurable to various workflows. The program delivers historical data to predict shelf life of certain commodities, and allows users to further leverage data to improve the quality and freshness of produce. Interested parties can request a demo from iFoodDS.


Insero and Blue White Robotics are working towards total sprayer automation by fully integrating the AgOtter spray controller into Blue White Robotics’ Managed Farm. The company believes the benefits of an autonomous farming operation are clear regarding increased safety and added reliability. Additionally, Insero officials believe the improvements in productivity and efficiency are near-limitless. The connectivity is achieved from a Blue White Robotics-managed farm. The added cost-efficiency is through a seamlessly integrated AgOtter spray controller, which fine-tunes the spray process. Speed variations and uneven terrain, plugged nozzles, calibration, proof of application, and more are all managed through a sprayer that’s upgraded to be dynamically controlled on an integrated platform. The application becomes uniform regardless of speed or pressure. A record is available from work order to a verified spray map of crop blocks with built-in proof of application rate. The company asserts that this alliance of two separate companies will dramatically reduce labor costs while helping eliminate costly errors.


Inteligistics has been offering its services to the ag industry to convert the manually managed fresh produce supply chains into digitally transformed smart supply chains. The company believes that digitizing the supply chain can provide users with the real-time visibility they need to deliver the superior customer experiences that buyers demand. In addition, the company believes digital transformation of complex supply chains, such as the highly perishable fresh produce, ensures high quality, maximizes operational and labor efficiency, reduces waste, and helps to sense demand in fast changing market conditions and manage the supply accordingly. Digitizing supply chain improves supply chain visibility, sustainability, traceability and food safety capabilities. Inteligistics has been working with many of the major fresh produce companies and retailers throughout the world, implementing its end-to-end visibility solutions and supply chain digitization processes. The company urges potential users to contact them for a brief supply chain digitization demonstration at [email protected].


iTrade reveals that it is in the midst of some significant developments for its customers. In addition to preparing to launch its next-gen trading platform, the company has released OrderMaestro—a new order management and sales solution tailored to dining operators and distributors; a new freight module that optimizes load planning/optimization and makes every purchase order more profitable; and a new trace solution for enhanced farm-to-fork visibility and food safety event responses.

NAÏO Technologies

Following substantial press coverage at CES 2022, Naïo Technologies is scaling up: its brand-new multi-crop/multi-task robot Orio was selected among TOP 10 New Products at the recognized World Ag Expo 2022. Naïo Technologies has been active in the United States since 2019 with Dino, its mechanical weeding robot for vegetables. The company has recently taken things to the next level, with its vineyard robot Ted that was presented during CES 2022. Now with Orio, Naïo has a new autonomous high precision robot, dedicated to large vegetable production. Orio is GPS and camera guided, equipped with multiple sensors running on an algorithm based on AI. Orio offers high precision weeding (inter-row and intra-row) and a very precise guidance of the implements attached in the center of the robot. Orio can also carry any implement at the rear of the robot with its three-point attachment. High accuracy seeding is an additional service Orio can provide to the growers allowing enhanced results when combined with weeding. Fully electric, Orio’s work rate is up to 24 acres per 24 hours. To schedule a demo, email: [email protected]