Western Growers Names 13 Innovative Companies for its First Harvest Automation Cohort
IRVINE, CA - As it prepares for the inaugural cohort of its Global Harvest Automation Initiative (GHAI), Western Growers named 13 innovators who will be receiving resources to help them launch. The project itself aims to automate 50 percent of specialty crop harvest within 10 years, and this will not be possible without the commercialization of harvest automation innovations.
“Most harvest startups build the entire technology stack themselves—from imaging and artificial intelligence to robotic end-effectors and automated movement up and down the fields. Western Growers’ Global Harvest Automation Initiative will now build this technology stack for them,” said Walt Duflock, Vice President of Innovation. “The innovators in this cohort are both startups and established companies that will get help integrating with industry-standard tractors, robot arms and sensors, which can commoditize up to 60–80 percent of the startup’s technology stack.”
According to a press release, the companies selected for this cohort all specialize in agricultural robotics, mechanization, and automation and will receive exclusive resources to help them launch and scale. This includes mentor support from leading ag and tech companies, including feedback on product offerings, strategy, and go-to-market options; facilitation of field trials with growers; and generation of case studies, as the success of field trials will be published and available to growers.
The cohort will also receive systems integration to implement industry-standard components—which, as Duflock already noted, is called technology stack—into their product roadmap so their robots can get into fields and markets faster.
Those innovation companies selected are as follows:
- Advanced Farm Technologies
- Augean Robotics
- Earth Rover
- Muddy Machines
- Oxbo International Corporation
- Ramsay Highlander
- Ripe Robotics
- Robotics Plus
- SPUDNIK Equipment Company
- Strio AI
For those wondering how the companies were chosen, each was selected based on market traction and potential for successful scale as well as feedback from Western Grower members and industry groups, including the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission.
GHAI Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), a group with expertise in precision ag, robotics, artificial intelligence, equipment manufacturing, harvest automation, and grower/shipper operations, will work with the cohort on priorities that can accelerate their development efforts.
The SMEs are as follows:
- Trimble: Mike Dentinger (Phase 1 Project Management) plus four Trimble SME’s
- Bosch in North America: Andreas Fuchs, Fabian Henrici
- Oxbo International Corporation: Kathryn Van Weerdhuizen, Scott Korthuis (retired), Chris Schloesser (retired)
- Spudnik Equipment Company LLC: David Offerdahl, Evan Steel
- Ramsay Highlander: Frank Maconachy, Greg Weisenfeld
- Driscoll’s (formerly): Michael Christensen
- NWFM LLC: Keith Veselka
- Red Rooster Consulting: Scott Jacky
- ProMach: Don Wickstrum
- Milano Technical Group: Dominic Milano, Soummya Datta
- All-Phase Co: Ken Hite
- Grimmway Farms: Jeff Morrison
- Turlock Fruit Company: Neill Callis
- Church Brothers Farms: Josh Ruiz
- Illume Agriculture: Kevin Andrew
- Superfresh Growers: Mike Van Pelt
We’re excited to see what these innovators have in store for our industry!