With a large number of high-powered agricultural leaders on one program, it is interesting how certain short comments stick with attendees more others, and that is the way it was for Peter Garin, who attended the Forbes Reinventing America AgTech Summit in Salinas, Calif., on behalf of AgProfessional.
Garin whose family was involved in farming starting in the early 1920s provided the following three speaker comments that stuck with him from the recent summit.
Rob Leclerc, co-founder and CEO, Ag Funder, stated, “Ag investment has grown from $2.4 billion in 2014, to $4.2 billion in 2015”. He broke the investment for 2015 into the following categories. Inclusion of cannabis being a big percentage appears to be one reason for the jump in investment from year to year.
Food and eCommerce—29%
Drones and Robotics—10%
Decision Support Technology—9%
Soil and Crop Technology—5%
Biomaterials and Biochemicals—4%
Brian Antle, harvest manager for Tanimura & Antle, who received the Forbes Impact Award in Innovation for developing seed tape transplants with a company in Spain, noted that not every attempt at using precision ag equipment and technology has been successful right out of the gate. But he also noted giving up isn’t an answer for the future. “We have a whole pile of equipment behind the shop that didn’t work, but that doesn’t stop us from trying new things. You have to constantly be alert for what does work despite your failures,” Antle said.
Kip Tom, CEO of Tom Farms, said, “Agriculture is extremely diverse. When trying to apply technology, what works for commodities won’t necessarily apply to other crops or vineyards. There is no single simplified answer, only continuous innovation towards your goal.”
He said that we appear to be at the end of “bigger, faster stronger machines that allow us more production by brute force. We’re merging into a phase of easier, smarter, more precise equipment, which is designed to be more flexible as well."