In celebration of Earth Day, we are looking at how Salinas farmers are turning to technology to solve a wide array of environmental challenges. As a key agricultural region in the United States, it’s no surprise that Salinas is home to many companies that are leveraging technology to become more sustainable. From solar-powered cooling facilities to processing plants to robots that eliminate the need for herbicides, here are three examples of how companies are finding ways to reduce their carbon footprint, use fewer chemicals and ultimately produce more with less resources available.
FarmWise Created a Robot that Kills Weeds
San Francisco-based FarmWise has combined computer vision with robotics to develop an autonomous vegetable weeder, and Salinas has been a prime testing ground. Through the company’s relationship with the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology, FarmWise conducted successful trials in the Salinas Valley last year. With farmers facing more pressure to reduce chemical usage, FarmWise’s autonomous vegetable weeder helps farmers implement an alternative to get rid of herbicides, save time and have greater yields. FarmWise’s robots use artificial intelligence to capture and analyze plant images in real-time. Once the images are processed, the machines know where the weeds are and remove them without using any herbicides.
D’Arrigo California Amps up Solar Power
Premier fresh fruit and vegetable grower, packer and shipper D’Arrigo California has invested in 18,000 solar panels on 39 acres of land in Monterey County. D’Arrigo California harvests the suns power to the tune of 5.5 megawatts (MW) between 4 solar power projects they have built in the last 3 years. The fourth solar power project includes two Tesla batteries which minimizes peak usage demand charges. The energy from the solar panels is helping to offset field operation costs and their state-of-the-art cooling facility (152,000 sq. ft.) located in Salinas, California.
Taylor Farms Works to Produce Food off the Grid
Taylor Farms, North America’s leading producer of ready-to-eat healthy fresh foods, has partnered with clean energy startup Concentric Power, which installed Taylor Farms’ first-ever natural gas-powered cogeneration energy system in 2017, with a projected annual energy offset of 62 percent. Combined with the solar and wind energy systems already on site, Taylor Farms’ Gonzales, CA-based facility is able to produce food almost entirely off the power utility grid, with an overall energy offset of 90 percent annually.