November 17, 2020

UPDATE from the CIT

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. The following is an update on the activities of some of those firms in an effort 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


Agtools is now part of Techstars Farm to Fork Accelerator in Minneapolis working with Cargill, Ecolab, and many other corporations. The firm also made the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School 3rd Annual List of Most Fundable Companies. It made the Top 20 achieving a “Silver Award.” Recently, Agtools also received the 2020 Tech Innovation Forum Octane LaunchPad Investor Judges’ Award, which is a Small Business Administration funded program for tech companies.


ApisProtect is providing beekeepers with $98 of additional value per hive per season. The company is an Irish-based startup that has developed an innovative solution to help commercial beekeepers monitor their beehives remotely. ApisProtect has developed this technology with commercial beekeepers in the United States to provide highly accurate insights to deliver more and stronger hives to growers, while also increasing their profits. ApisProtect’s monitoring technology provides real-time hive monitoring and delivers a 24/7 early warning system about at-risk hives and gives beekeepers actionable information to help prevent losses and increase colony productivity. If you are interested to learn more, sign up to “Insights from ApisProtect” or download the commercial product specification sheet at or email [email protected].


Energy technology firm Concentric Power Inc. and California’s Gonzales Electric Authority have entered into an Energy Services Agreement to deliver wholesale electric power via a community-scale microgrid in and around the Gonzales Agricultural Industrial Business Park. The microgrid will start with 35 megawatts of capacity to provide locally generated, resilient and sustainable power to the agricultural industrial park, which houses processing facilities for some of the country’s largest fresh vegetable and wine producers. Concentric Power designed the intelligent microgrid to integrate a mix of 14.5M megawatts of solar energy, 10 megawatts of battery energy storage and 10 megawatts of flexible thermal generation. All the power sources are managed by the company’s Advanced Microgrid Controller. The system will allow the park to island from the wider energy grid, ensuring that end users have reliable, high-quality power 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, even when facing planned or unplanned grid outages.


Ganaz, Inc. launched a solution for farms to modernize HR employee onboarding. More than 20 ag companies in three states (CA, WA & OR) have implemented paperless employee onboarding at their field and packing operations. The HR onboarding tool saves time and money for growers and helps them keep better records in their digital platform. Ganaz also saw a considerable increase in the use of their two-way texting solution this year. Growers have seen a significant benefit in communicating with their workers through this platform, sharing policies, procedures, and work updates directly to their employees’ phones. The current crisis may have accelerated its adoption but using a two-way texting platform for mass and personal employee communication has proved to be the way forward.


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, 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, it is boots on the ground backed by top-notch scientists, working side-by-side with you and organizations you trust like Western Growers, YCEDA, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Cal State Monterey Bay, and the University of Arizona, to build unique tools that make your best people even better.


iFoodDS (iFoodDecisionSciences) has expanded its solution suite to offer food safety, quality and traceability solutions from the field to the consumer, with solutions optimized for growers, packers, processors, distributors, retail and foodservice organizations. The company is expanding its Salinas and Seattle hubs and has sales or distribution presence in North America, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Australia.


Naïo Technologies USA had a very successful season in Salinas/Santa Maria cultivating more than 950 acres with its grower partners. Naïo will be adding two more robots to its U.S. fleet in December, and will now have a total of five Dinos in operation. The company is shifting its operations to Yuma, AZ and is looking for companies interested in its WaaS program for the winter in Yuma.


Harnessing the power of DNA, SafeTraces continues to offer rapid on-food traceability and rapid sanitation verification solutions to customers throughout the food and agriculture industries. SafeTraces’ miniDART solution is the most cost-effective, scalable on-product traceability solution for produce and bulk goods, applying unique edible, invisible DNA tags (FDA-GRAS) directly to the product for unsurpassed supply chain security. The saniDART solution is the first rapid solution for verifying sanitation effectiveness at a microbial level to receive certification from the Association of Analytical Chemists Research Institute (AOAC-RI). As consumers and regulators continue to demand higher standards and visibility into food safety practices throughout the supply chain, SafeTraces’ solutions provide valuable risk management and are easily integrated into existing food production and safety programs to protect product quality, consumer health and safety, and brand equity.


SWIIM and WiseConn hosted another edition of its Equipment Integration Series where attendees learned how SWIIM, combined with WiseConn, can further help growers achieve desired yields through the use of sensors, plant requirement recommendations and advanced water use data analytics. For those farmers who already have, or are considering WiseConn telemetry for their farming operation, with the flip of a switch, they can add the power of SWIIM’s water balance data easily without adding new equipment. SWIIM is able to connect with most already-installed brands of commercial irrigation automation equipment in the field including Netafim, Bermad, Campbell and many others, which allows SWIIM to use the data already created to provide detailed, multi-dimensional water use reports. A list of current of SWIIM-compatible equipment providers is located on its website. If you don’t see your equipment vendor listed, contact SWIIM to discuss integrating your equipment provider of choice.


Are you a specialty crop grower interested in reducing your hand-weeding labor costs? Tensorfield Agriculture has been conducting on-site weed pressure studies throughout 2020 in order to provide competitive quotes for its precision post-emergence thermal weeding services. Using on-board cameras, their precision sprayers hit only the weeds and leave your crops to flourish—suitable for all specialty crops grown on 40/80 inch beds. The only applicant is organic-approved food-grade canola oil, which is heated, then precisely sprayed to destroy weeds upon contact. Early projections estimate a 40% reduction against today’s hand-weeding labor costs using their technology. To arrange a trial for 2021, contact them today at [email protected]