According to AgFunder, 2018 was a record-breaking year for agrifood technology investment, building upon the previous year. This period saw startups raising 43 percent more funding across 11 percent more deals. One area where much of this growth has come from is within California. Located just 60 miles south of Silicon Valley, Salinas is an agtech epicenter – where a great deal is happening in the fields: everything from farmworkers learning new automated technologies, to a startup creating the “blockchain of food,” to robotic vegetable weeders.
Some of the companies making waves in Salinas are:
Taylor Farms, the world’s largest producer of leafy greens, last year invested $1 million in new training facilities to teach team members how to operate sophisticated agriculture technologies. By learning these advanced skills, field workers will be eligible for higher compensation and career advancement in the new era of automation.
San Francisco-based Farmwise has combined computer vision with robotics to develop an autonomous vegetable weeder that helps farmers get rid of herbicides, save time, have better products and producer greater yields. Salinas has been an excellent testing ground for the company, which works with some of the major vegetable producers based in the region. Farmwise’s autonomous weeder will help farmers grappling with the labor shortage and high labor costs and also help farmers reduce their reliance on chemical weedkillers.
Developing “The Blockchain of Food”
Bringing blockchain to the food industry, Ripe.io is mapping the food journey from start to finish to create a “Food Quality Network.” The network will enable transparency throughout the food supply chain and provide insight on the freshness and quality of food, while also giving farmers custody of the data they create.
Women-owned startup uses soil DNA to pPrevent disease outbreaks
Trace Genomics, named one of the Top 25 Most Innovative AgTech Startups in 2018 by Forbes, is helping farmers study the health of their soil to prevent the spread of dangerous pathogens in large commercial farms. Founders Dr. Diane Wu and Poornima Parameswaran have idnicated how they hope to get a “fingerprint” of every farm in the world, in order to “stabilize the world’s food systems.” Last year the company announced more than $19 million in new venture funding.