I recently attended the Forbes AgTech Summit in Salinas, CA, where roughly 50 start-up companies originating from Silicon Valley and other high-tech regions of the country demonstrated their latest wares for the agriculture industry.
Many of these companies are developing products to address water management. I saw innovative drones that can be programmed to collect thermal images of fields to assess if crops are water-stressed.
Several companies displayed dataloggers that use wireless communication technology to automatically retrieve data from sensors deployed in fields. Some of these wireless communication networks can remotely monitor irrigation system performance and activate valves and pumps. Several companies are developing decision support software to help improve irrigation scheduling.
As someone who researches and teaches water management of vegetables in California, I have a keen interest to discover and learn about new tools that could help growers be more efficient in irrigating vegetables. While many of these products were intriguing, many were not a good fit for the vegetable industry.