Fields of the Future: Putting Tech to Work

In case you missed the talk at the 75th Annual FFVA Convention, here are our key takeaways.

With a shrinking labor force, technology for the fruit and vegetable industries is critical to their health. Organizations like Western Growers and Harvest Croo Robotics are helping to revolutionize the industry with technology that provides a solution to address farm labor shortages.

In case you missed the issues forum at the 75th Annual FFVA Convention, here are our key takeaways.

Dennis Donohue of Western Growers started the session with an overview of Western Growers’ mission to bring innovation to the growers they serve. For more information on their innovation and technology initiatives, visit https://www.wga.com/innovation/technology.

Following Donohue, Gary Wishnatzki of Wish Farms and Harvest Croo Robotics took the stage to discuss the strawberry harvesting technology that is shaping the way we think about labor in the strawberry industry and opening up opportunity for other industries. More information on Wishnatzki’s innovative strawberry harvester can be seen here, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/artificial-intelligence-could-revolutionize-farming-industry/

  • "Innovation is nothing new to the industry," Donohue said. We rid ourselves of the assumptions that low technology in agriculture is no longer true.
  • We must no longer work in a siloed fashion. "We now understand that we are going to have to make some new friends," Donohue added. People that look different than us can teach us a lot about technology in agriculture and we must bridge that gap and seek relationships with them. Wishnatzki added, "You can’t do this alone. Early on I thought I could, but I learned quickly that I cannot. It is a collaborative effort."
  • "Automation and innovation have been happening for 150 or more years," Wishnatzki said. "But the way we have been harvesting strawberries has not changed in over 100 years and we have to do something."
  • Wishnatzki also noted, "It does not have to be perfect…it just has to be better than humans." Delivering a funny anecdote and mentioning the increased yields, lower harvest costs, improved quality and data the grower benefits from when using the strawberry harvester.

Wishnatzki quoted Dr. Rex Lee of the University of South Florida by saying "If a solution requires the laws of physics to be broken, then it is impossible. Otherwise it is just an engineering problem and anything is possible."

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