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Through New Technology, Agriculture is Leading the Way on Innovation

June 15, 2017
Whether through biotechnology or even robots, agriculture is leading the way on innovation. In Salinas Valley, California, farmers are using data and automation to improve agriculture, as this Wired article highlights.
Here in the Salinas Valley, farmers and tech types are teaming up to turn this into a kind of Silicon Valley for agriculture. And they’re not stopping at water-knife-wielding robots. Because it’s data that will truly drive this agricultural revolution. It’s not just about robots doing jobs humans don’t want to do, but AI doing jobs humans can’t do. And AI can’t go anywhere without data.

More and more, agriculture is about automation. Not that automation is anything novel. Farming has seen thousands of years of technological advances, from the horse-drawn plow to the combine harvester. But in this digitized world, the pace of automation is accelerating. “At the end of the day, a lot of the traditional work that’s being done in the fields, fewer and fewer people want to do that,” says Dennis Donohue, lead of the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology, a kind of incubator that tallies over 30 ag tech startups in downtown Salinas. “So parts of those functions are simply going to be automated.”

California may be out of its brutal drought, but there’s no telling how climate change will shape the coming decades. The state has to somehow provide water for 20 million people while watering a $50 billion agriculture industry. And that’s to say nothing of, well, literally everywhere else on the planet. But expect the technology growing here in the Salinas Valley to make its way around the world, water knives and all.

Dennis Donohue, featured in this article, is scheduled to speak at BIO’s 2017 International Convention in San Diego on Tuesday, June 20 as the closing speaker of BIO’s Modern Ag Innovation Day programming.