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All the News that is Fit to Print

Unmanned aerial systems (UAS) 

Interest in use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) is moving from novelty to practical applications in agriculture. With the Federal Aviation Administration providing guidance on the legal use of small commercial UAS, the technology is set to take off in Florida specialty crop production. Researchers have been seeking applications for the aircraft, including identification of greening – a devastating disease in citrus – and the ability to estimate the fruit production on trees. 

A scientist at the University of Central Florida is developing systems that utilize UAS to scout strawberry fields. When the imagery collected by the UAS identifies a potential problem, it signals a ground robot to autonomously drive to the spot in the field to more closely inspect the area with higher-resolution imagery. 

Private companies are forming to offer the technology to growers as well. Highlands Precision Ag, for example, will deploy its UAS on behalf of growers. “UAS is simply a vehicle to collect data on crops,” says Steve Maxwell, CEO of the company. “As cameras become more precise and big data becomes more accessible, the imagery will fundamentally change the agriculture industry both environmentally and even in the marketing of crops.”

Watch for new classes for Unmanned Aerial Systems to fly over your garden!

8 Transformational Food Tech Companies
By AgFunder

What is Food Tech?

Food tech is the small but growing segment of the startup and venture capital universe that’s aiming to improve or disrupt the global food system.

Globally, food and agriculture is a $7.8 trillion industry, responsible for feeding the planet and employing well over 40% of the population. It also represents more than 15% of global GDP.

There is a range of demands being put on the world’s food industry today that food tech companies want to solve for these issues. Here is a sampling:

Aerobotics – smart crop scouting – South Africa

Aerobotics is a South African agtech company with a smart scouting platform to identify pests and diseases in tree crops. The startup has developed a system that tracks every tree on the farm, detecting problems early, and guiding farmers to the location of the threat.

Aerobotics’ platform combines weekly satellite data, automated drone scouting, and infield scouting data and then uses machine learning to automatically detect pest and disease problems. It alerts the farmer to those locations to ground-truth the data and diagnose the specific problems. By bringing farmer validation into the loop, Aerobotics gets smarter all the time, which benefits all the growers on the platform.

Brightseed – USA

Brightseed discovers plant-based nutritional bioactives from commodity crops and incorporates these highly beneficial ingredients into everyday food products. By restoring nutrients that have been lost in our modern diet, Brightseed strengthens the body’s inherent ability to repair itself and maintain good health.

Chinova Bioworks – natural food preservative -Canada

Chinova Bioworks has developed a natural broad-spectrum preservative for food and beverages using chitosan from mushrooms. The product can also be customized to address particular pathogens that are specific to individual food and beverage companies.

Chitosan’s antimicrobial properties are well known, but their effectiveness as a natural preservative has been limited.  Chinova has developed proprietary technology that produces Chitosan with the molecular characteristics to be at least as effective as traditional synthetic preservatives while maintaining its status as a completely natural product. It recently received the GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) designation from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), a very extensive application.

Connecterra – AI for dairy cows – The Netherlands

Connecterra is an artificial intelligence-powered decision support software service for dairy farmers that can detect health issues such as mastitis or lameness at least 24 hours before they are critical. 

Ida can also track changes on the farm and tell you what the impact of the change is on the behaviour of the animals through the sensors worn by the cows. Automated learning means that Ida’s algorithms are constantly improving the product for its customers.

ImpactVision – hyperspectral imagery for food freshness and quality – UK

ImpactVision applies machine learning to hyperspectral imagery in food processing and across the supply chain to measure freshness, quality, and for foreign object detection in a rapid and non-invasive way.

Solinftec – machine data for efficiency – Brazil

Solinftec is a Brazilian IoT-based farm management system helping clients to monitor the status of their machines in the field and their progress based on their positioning and what activity they’re undertaking. Using a suite of technologies including proprietary hardware, a telemetry communications network, and a software-as-a-service platform, Solinftec can also give clients a verifiable record of their harvest and traceability from the farm to the truck to mill, without any human input.

Maybe one of the biggest agtech companies that no one has ever heard of, Solinftec is currently running on over 12 million acres and monitoring 20,000 pieces of equipment with 75,000 active daily users and 50% of the Brazilian sugarcane market.

Trace Genomics – actionable microbial insights – USA

Trace Genomics has built the first scalable soil microbiome test to help farmers predict soil disease, soil health, and crop quality, using high-throughput DNA sequencing and machine learning.

With a growing, proprietary knowledge base, Trace Genomics can identify previously unknowable microbial species occurring in agricultural soils, and provide farmers with information about which microbes could be impacting production. Farmers can use this information to make decisions about which seeds to use, what rotations to deploy and which biological agents and other inputs to apply.

The Yield – micro-climate sensing & analytics – Australia

The Yield is an Australian AI-driven micro-climate sensing, analytics, and prescription platform for the aquaculture and horticulture industries. The blend of high quality, accurate and reliable sensing hardware with meaningful, useful analytics and prescriptions honed in harsh aquatic environments positions the Yield is the premier player in micro-climate sensing.

Check out our class in Entrepreneurship in our Business Department


A Recipe for Tomorrow

Feeding a planet of 9 billion won't be easy, but it is possible

WIRED Magazine November 2016 by Hillary Rosner

Problem: Low yield

Farmers will need to produce more food on less land especially in the developing world.

Solution: Money, Seeds, and poop​

Seeds bred or engineered for specific soil and climate types and to resist pests or diseases will be key, as will business solutions​ like One Acre Fund's combination of fertilizer, finance, and training. You get a big hit just by raising worldwide yields for 16 crops. And then you can stop turning forests into farms.

Problem: Waste

For every 100 calories of food grown, people eat only about 35 calories.

Solution: Sensors and apps

Instead of arbitrary sell-by dates, how about biochemical bacteria monitors so people don't trash good food? Apps can pair extra food with those who need it. University cafeterias are ditching trays, leading to a 50 percent drop in waste. Oh, and hey: Eat less meat. That'll let farms grow food for people instead of cows. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE on []


This Indoor Farm Can Bring Fresh Produce

to Food Deserts

ALMONDS GOT THE brunt of the bad press, but they hardly deserve all the blame for California’s water woes. Sure, it’s worth considering how to minimize your water footprint, and forgoing your daily handful of almonds in solidarity with the parched earth couldn’t hurt. But considering how widespread the water crisis is, and the fact that agriculture is responsible for 80 percent of the country’s water consumption, the more crucial question to be asking now... is what can be done to fundamentally change the way our food gets made? CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE []

Plant Sales

We’d like to extend our thanks to the community for supporting the Orange Coast College Horticulture Program!

The Orange Coast College Horticulture department hosts three Plant Sales each year. The Spring sale is held the end of April beginning of May; the Fall sale is held the first week in October; and the Poinsettia Sale is held the first week of December. As the plant sales get closer we will post exact dates and times.

We have become known for our offerings of poinsettias, perennial vegetables, and heirloom annual edib​les. We also continue to expand our selection of California natives, drought tolerant plants, herbs, and unusual plants of all types. We grow 100% of our own plants, with our student club, volunteers, classes, faculty and staff all pitching in to provide the labor. Plants are selected to do well in the local climate and all plants have been grown using sustainable practices. All proceeds will help support Orange Coast College’s Horticulture Program and student scholarships.

Sales are held in our nursery located at the Horticulture Department, Orange Coast College, 2701 Fairview Road, Costa Mesa, CA 92626 . Parking is limited so please plan to park in the Adams Avenue parking lot and walk to the sale area. When you’re done shopping, we’ll hold your plants for you so you can drive up to the horticulture department and we will help you load your selections.

Horticulture Department Email Notifications Signup

Please complete and submit your request to if you would like to be notified of our upcoming events including our three plant sales. We will not send out more than 4 notices per year.

More News Stories...

Corpse Flower

Blooming is a rare occurrence for the corpse flower; the last time it happened in Orange County was ​in 2014. It could be decades before OCC’s plant blooms again.

The flower is famous for its noxious odor, which has been compared to rotting flesh. But the terrible smell lasts only for 24 to 48 hours while the plant is blooming, according to OCC horticulture instructor Joe Stead.​​

Stead has been nurturing OCC’s pair of plants since 2006 when the seedlings arrived from Huntington Botanical Gardens. He hopes to pollinate OCC’s blossom with frozen pollen or harvest the pollen from OCC’s plant for the future.

The species is considered endangered, but OCC’s Horticulture Department, Huntington Botanical Gardens and Fullerton Arboretum are working together to propagate new plants. The plants have both male and female flowers, but they will not self-pollinate. The blossom’s strong odor works to attract pollinators in the jungle, Stead explained.

OCC will follow the tradition of naming the plant when it blooms. The Coast plant will be known as “Little John,” a play on the ironic name of the Robin Hood character and in honor of John Lenanton, a horticulture professor at OCC for more than 40 years.