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One of the World’s Largest Electronics Companies – Entering the Food and Agriculture Arena

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Touch the Soil News #240 Fujitsu of Japan, one of the world’s largest electronics companies, is known for its tablet PCs, notebooks, telecommunications equipment and semiconductors. Fujitsu has 159,000 employees worldwide and serves customers in over 100 countries. Founded in 1935, the company now enjoys roughly $40 billion in annual revenues. In recent years, demand for Fujitsu’s semiconductors has softened and left the company with extra industrial space. What to do with it came rather naturally – grow food. They were able to use the super clean rooms in which semi-conductors were manufactured to create space for clean vegetables. Trays of soil-less lettuces are fed via nutrient rich water. At…

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Village Farms – The Changing Face of Fresh Produce

Photo courtesy of Village Farms

Touch the Soil News #170 Village Farms is one of the world’s largest greenhouse fresh-produce operations with some 250 acres of greenhouses under food production – tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and eggplant. CEO Mike DeGiglio in a recent video explains that in the 1980’s only 1 percent of retail tomatoes came from greenhouses. Today roughly 80 percent of retail tomatoes come from greenhouses. Awsome is the reaction to these super-size greenhouses – (photo courtesy of village farms) Village farms boasts that its produce ripens on the vine longer, allowing natural sugars to develop and that they have the shortest times from hand-harvest to grocery store. Recently, Mike DeGiglio was interviewed in…

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Impossible Foods – Getting the Google Eye

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Touch the Soil News # 148 To get a more complete picture of what is going on here, a few words about Impossible Foods. Impossible Foods was created by Patrick O. Brown, MD, PhD and a Stanford University Biologist. The business is three years old and is located in Redwood City, California. To date, Brown has assembled an impressive staff of researchers and developers to include over 50 scientists, farmers and engineers. Their goal – make the best meats and cheeses you’ll ever eat – from plants. The team looked at specific proteins and nutrients from greens, seeds, and grains to recreate a very realistic experience of meats and dairy…

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Green Sense Farms – Deeper Insight to the Change Coming

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Touch the Soil News # 133 When it comes to raising food, most farmers think about things like land, tractors, harvesting equipment and chemicals. For some crops this may not change much. For other crops, particularly lettuces, micro-greens and herbs, the future may be totally different. Green Sense farms, working with Royal Phillips – a global leader in lighting – is taking a completely different approach. Capital expenditures for setting up farming include specialized LED lighting, a large indoor facility, growing towers and a physical location that puts them within 100 miles of 20 million people. Photo courtesy of Green Sense Farms – from left to right Rob Schlyer -…

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The Lettuce Robot Has Arrived

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Touch the Soil News # 132 The most labor intensive crop is lettuce. One of the most labor intensive tasks in lettuce farming is thinning the lettuce plants early in the season. Once the lettuce takes stand, thinning gives the remaining lettuce plants room to grow and mature to market-size lettuce heads. Advanced Lettuce-thinning Robot Entrepreneur Jorge Heraud, from Salinas Valley in California founded Blue River Technology. The company invented what they call the LettuceBot. The LettuceBot can thin lettuce plants automatically and without labor. Consider that at the present, it takes about 50 farm laborers two days to thin a 15-acre lettuce field. The LettuceBot, using cutting edge robots,…

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Agricultural Technology – The Dollars Are In Philosophical Alignment

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The topic of agricultural technology is almost guaranteed to be prefaced with the statement that it is all about feeding the burgeoning population. In the world today, however, it is easy to confuse the primary goal of making money with practices that are best for people and the planet. One thing we do know is that a tsunami of capital is looking to capitalize on a world of growing food insecurity.  Agricultural technology is one of those venues which have attracted the attention of big dollars. Recently, Western Growers Association (WGA) and SVG Partners (a venture capital firm) announced a plan to identify and speed up agricultural technology. WGA members…

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