High-Tech Farm Tools

 

What's the next big ag tech innovation for the farm of the future? At Fresno State's​ Water, Energy and Technology (WET) Center​, staff, faculty and students are helping California entrepreneurs bring new technologies to market for more sustainable farming.

Mitch Partovi graduated from Fresno State with a bachelor's in psychology in 2014 (followed by a master's in public administration from Sonoma State) and now serves as director of water markets for start-up company Waterfind. Based at the WET office space on the Fresno State campus, Waterfind assists farmers with acquiring water.

“Fresno State is doing incredible work to support ag technology in the Central Valley. We're doing more than stimulating the Central Valley economy—we're preserving a way of life," says Partovi. 

The center acts as an incubator to get new start-ups off the ground, offers product testing services, and includes a business accelerator to help companies scale and grow. The accelerator—called Valley​ Ventures—is a component of the statewide BlueTechValley Initiative, funded by the California Energy Initiative.

“When our team evaluates innovative technologies aimed at the ag industry, we focus on identifying solutions that will actually solve a real problem. In our efforts, we are attempting to act as a 'filter' for the industry and put forward some of the topline innovative and promising start-ups," says Helle Petersen, WET Center program manager and an alumna of Fresno State's MBA program.

Here are just a few of the kinds of high-tech, precision ag tools that the WET Center has helped get off the ground​:

  • Automated irrigation systems
  • Software platforms
  • Biofuel for energy and soil conditioning
  • Wastewater filtration (u​sing microbes and earthworms)

The precision farming market is expected to grow to $10 ​billion globally by 2025.


To be considered for the Valley Ventures business accelerator program, companies must demonstrate the potential to have an economic impact in the Central Valley region and the ability to improve the efficient use of scarce resources. To date, 39 companies have gone through the program since it began in 2017. Top right: Fresno State industrial technology alumnus Jesus Medina tests soil sensor technology on a campus irrigation research plot. Bottom right: Dr. David Zoldoske, former director of water initiatives at Fresno State (n​​ow retired), speaks at a 2017 event promoting a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission and a $500,000 grant from the USDA for water, energy and ag technology innovation​. ​

 

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