Last week marked a unique opportunity for Washington’s agri-industries to ground the promises of today’s high-technology frontier and explore how these technological tools may be positioned to compliment the complex challenges that commercial food producers face in order to sustainably feed a growing global population with fewer resources.
The event was the third annual gathering of the Precision Farming Expo(PFE), which has been brought to life by the leadership and vision of Jeff Lorton Duke Joseph Agency. PFE16, was the first time the event visited Washington, after being hosted in Oregon the last two years. “The goal of PFE16 is to bring agriculturists and technology developers together, cut through the hype, and find new tools to increase farm sustainability.” – PFE16.
Sky Johnson with Borton Fruit journeyed to the event in Kennewick and contributed his perspective at a Q&A panel focused on Business Development & Entrepreneurship moderated by Alexis Holzer, Assistant Director at WSU Office of Economic Development.
“PFE16 was a great event to further the observation and assessment around how technology innovations might come to position real-world shifts in farming practices & communication-chains. Like all things in the digital-age; tree fruit farming is beginning to see the value behind the 1’s&0’s. Information is power and for the first time that perception of what that power might look like is approaching a cost-effective crossroad; where the scale of farms and need for information are driving investments into the field and packing houses today.” – Sky Johnson
During a lunchtime presentation sponsored by Planetary Resources, The Asteroid Mining Company; speaker James Orsulak mentioned the Company’s near-term focus to explore and define how a grower might leverage satellite information into the future farming system. Mr. Orsulak then went onto share a conversation he had with one of the lead engineers, whose task is to define how this new satellite perspective & information might be useful in agriculture. The engineer, literally one of the brightest minds in the world, made the statement that agriculture is extremely difficult to make sense of; for the reason being that it is always changing. Unlike an asteroid that is basically frozen in a vacuum of space and doesn’t change much over time; agriculture on the other hand is extremely dynamic.
Grasping the complex farm systems, like those at Borton Fruit, it cannot easily be summarized with a few photos from the edge of space or one new point of information in the field. That technology “silver bullet” will likely be “many-bullets” of new information that compile to create a scope where growers are able to achieve more frequent predictable outcomes, while communicating changes to retailers and consumers in a more fluid and transparent matter.
Thanks to events like PFE16, growers and technology can define new solutions and may give growers confidence in the decisions today; so that they achieve the desirable outcomes when the fruit is sent to market tomorrow.
Posted January 12, 2016
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