What Is The Western Growers Center For Innovation And Technology In Agriculture
The Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology is a non-profit organization located in Salinas, California that aims to drive innovation and technological advancement in the agriculture industry. The organization was founded in 2017 and is supported by Western Growers, a trade association representing over 4,000 farmers in Arizona, California, and Colorado.
Meet Dennis Donohue.
Dennis is the Executive Director of the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology. He has over 25 years of experience in the agriculture industry!
Prior to joining the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology, Donohue served as the Mayor of Salinas, California for four years. He has also held other key roles in the world of ag.
We asked Dennis to tell us about Salinas, California.
“Well, Salinas is known for a couple of things, it’s the home of John Steinbeck, one of North America’s six Nobel Laureates in literature, and it’s also the ‘Salad Bowl’ of the world. Lately over the last several years, it’s also really a great intersection between fresh and innovation. The Salinas Valley and the Silicon Valley which is one of the reasons the Innovation Center is here in Salinas.” -Dennis
Since its inception, the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology has focused on identifying and supporting technology in agriculture and innovations that can help improve efficiency and sustainability. To achieve this, the organization partners with universities, research institutions, and industry leaders to conduct research, develop new technologies, and bring innovative products and solutions to the marketplace.
We asked Dennis about California’s role in ag tech and what makes him hopeful for the future of agriculture.
“I get the opportunity to move all over the state and what impresses me and gives me a lot of encouragement is the amount of activity in the marketplace, on the farm, in the universities, in education on all levels. The amount of activity around “ag tech” is extraordinary! Our fundamental role is to try and help companies cross the finish lines in terms of what their business objectives are with our members needs. California is really kind of ‘the show’ in the specialty crop world if you are interested in proof of concept, scaling, you’ve got to be in California!”
One of the main initiatives of the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology is the development of precision agriculture technologies which use advanced sensors, GPS, and other technologies to enable farmers to monitor and optimize their crops in real-time. This can help reduce waste, increase crop yields, and improve water and resource management.
In addition to research and development efforts, the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology also works to educate and train the next generation of agriculture leaders. The organization offers various educational programs including a fellowship program for graduate students and a mentorship program for early-career professionals.
Under the leadership of Dennis Donohue, Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology has made significant contributions to the agriculture industry. Their efforts have the potential to improve the efficiency and sustainability of agriculture, which ultimately helps to feed the growing global population.
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This article was written by Meg van der Kruik. Photo credit James Collier for California Grown.