April 12, 2022

Agriculture robotics event coming to Fresno in 2022

FIRA USA, an agriculture robotics event, is coming to Fresno, California, in October 2022.

The event is designed to bring together specialty crop growers, robot manufacturers, academics, startups and technologists for three days (Oct. 18-20, 2022) of “problem-solving, decision-making and planning.” FIRA USA is jointly organized by the Global Organization For Agricultural Robotics (GOFAR), the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, Western Growers and the Fresno-Merced Future of Food (F3) Initiative.

Specialty crops, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture,” tend to be more labor intensive to produce and pick and require more sophisticated technological solutions, which makes robotics and automation especially attractive.

Walt Duflock, Western Growers vice president of innovation, is working to advance the pace of innovation in this sector through the Global Harvest Automation Initiative, which will be presented at FIRA USA 2022. One of the initiative’s goals is to automate 50% of specialty crop harvest in the next 10 years.

“We really wanted to bring a FIRA event to the U.S. because the U.S. market for specialty crop ag tech startups is the first or second market to enter, so it makes perfect sense to have this event right in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley,” Duflock said. “FIRA USA organizes the entire specialty crop community – educators, commercialization folks, startup companies, and large and small growers — and puts the entire event focus on specialty crop automation for three days.”

Why Fresno? Because it is fertile San Joaquin Valley, a hub for specialty crop growers. California also is a prime location for companies interested in tapping into a highly profitable agriculture market — one that produces more than 400 commodities and two-thirds of the total fruits and nuts crops in the United States. California farmers and ranchers earned $49.1 billion in cash receipts for their output in 2020 alone.

Here is the overview:

Oct. 18: Research and Development Day

This academic day will provide the opportunity for new agricultural technologists in universities around the country that are winning some of the new artificial intelligence grants for agricultural automation to present their projects.

By bringing this academic community together face-to-face in Fresno, FIRA USA aims to set priorities and focus on solving some pain points.

Oct. 19: Technology and Business Day

With a full expo zone, an agenda of panel discussions and breakout sessions, and networking times, the second day will bring together the autonomous solutions and end-users.

FIRA USA will engage the grower in the conversation to make it real and make the presentation more relevant for grower audiences that want to get the grower and startup perspective on the solution.

In the panel discussions, breakout sessions and roundtables, the participants will build on several big-picture themes: understanding specific specialty crops, introducing different levels of automation and smart technologies, optimizing mechanization, prioritizing value for growers of all sizes, tackling labor shortage, addressing climate-smart objectives, determining appropriate ownership and maintenance models, and more.

Oct. 20: Demo Day

On the third day, FIRA USA will host in-field robot demos at the California State University, Fresno campus farm.

Participants will have the opportunity to watch dozens of robots working in real conditions:

  • Harvesting, weeding, seeding, thinning and planting robots;
  • Irrigation automation and data analytics solutions;
  • Focus on field crops, fruits & vegetables and vineyards

To learn more, visit www.fira-agtech.com/event/fira-usa.

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