NOTE: This article was contributed by the King City Rustler
SALINAS—The Salinas Valley Ag Tech Summit returns to Hartnell College on March 17-18, promising another deep dive into the latest tactics, equipment and thinking to maximize profit and consumer satisfaction in the fresh produce industry.
The seventh annual event is expected to bring together more than 1,000 educators, students, farmers, growers, suppliers, service providers, tech companies and more.
The 2020 theme is “Making Ag Tech Work for You,” which organizers say means both applying new technology and methods while preparing for emerging innovation just over the horizon.
The summit will begin on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, with an Irish-themed VIP reception, featuring a welcome from Hartnell’s Superintendent/President and a panel of Irish ag tech entrepreneurs, as well as craft beer, wine and deluxe hors d’oeuvres. March 18 will offer a full day of expert speakers, panels and exhibitors focused on technology, automation and workforce education.
Also on March 18, the Monterey Bay Chapter of California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA) will present a daylong series of professional workshops in all aspects of pest management, worth up to seven education units.
“Salinas Valley Ag Tech showcases the products and ideas available right now, while helping decision-makers anticipate exciting opportunities that are about to come online,” said summit chairman Dennis Donohue, director of the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology, a premier ag tech startup incubator based in Salinas. “Our attendees are people and companies that understand the need to prepare for and embrace change in order to maintain their competitive edge.”
At the March 17 VIP reception, starting at 5:30 p.m., new Hartnell Superintendent/President Dr. Patricia Hsieh will kick off the summit with a personal greeting. She has led the college since September 2019, following the retirement of Dr. Willard Lewallen. Hsieh has made workforce preparation, particularly in the Salinas Valley, a top priority for Hartnell.
Attendees will enjoy food from Turf Club catering and quality beers and wines as they tour the Exhibitors Showcase inside and outside of the STEM Center, renamed last summer in Lewallen’s honor. New at the reception this year will be the Fireside Chat panel of Irish entrepreneurs (soon to be announced), presented in the college’s Mainstage Theater.
The Main Day program on March 18 will start at 7 a.m. with breakfast, the Exhibitors Showcase and an IMAX movie showing in the Hartnell Planetarium, located in the STEM Center.
Panels and speeches will start promptly at 9 a.m., with presentations by leaders from such companies as Taylor Farms, Driscoll’s, Koppert Biological Systems, Ceres, FieldIn, Bayer, Trimble, FarmWise, Bear Flag Robotics, AgWise and Hermanos Automated Services.
New this year will be a panel tying ag tech to ag education, with a conversation on “A New Kind of Worker” aimed at driving a national dialogue on how to develop an ag workforce in tune with technology.
The day will conclude with a 3 p.m. keynote address and Q&A from Mark Hanchett, CEO of Atlis Motor Vehicles, a start-up company in Mesa, Ariz., focused on delivering the first battery-electric full-sized pickup truck for the U.S. market.
As always, the summit will provide unique opportunities for learning and networking while supporting agribusiness students and programs at Hartnell College. It also will spotlight the Salinas Valley’s emergence as an incubator and hub for innovation and development in ag tech.
Community members, ag industry members, growers, PCAs, CCAs, QALs, pilots, students and participants in ag tech and software industries are encouraged to attend. The event is organized by the Hartnell College Agriculture Business and Technology Institute in collaboration with the Monterey Bay Chapter of CAPCA.
Several ticket options are available, including a best-value price of $60 for both days’ events. Exhibitor locations — both single and double booths, indoor outdoor — remain available, as do a variety of sponsorship packages.
To learn more, visit the Salinas Valley Ag Tech website at svagtechsummit.com.