En Solución’s fully automated ozone nanobubble system continues to help lower the cost of food safety while increasing quality control. We are pleased to be partnering with Braga Fresh to conduct pilot testing of our ozone nanobubble solution in their processing facility in Gonzales, Calif. In addition to shelf-life studies, we will explore the benefits of in-plant targeted placement of this innovative sanitizing technology. En Solución will also partner with JV Smith Companies at their JV Farms facilities in Yuma, AZ in support of En Solución’s latest grant award from the FDA. Under that award, En Solución will apply ozone nanobubbles to open water irrigation sources to improve water quality and enhance plant health and soil productivity. En Solución continues to seek additional installation locations with industry-leading partners across North America—let us know if you are interested in piloting with us! After a successful product launch at the World Ag Expo last February, FarmWise is focusing on the start of the Salinas season and the building of its pre-order book for its new weeding implement, Vulcan. After years of experience providing best-in-class automated weeding services, the FarmWise team releases a radically different and unique architecture designed to provide unparalleled weeding performance in the field. Vulcan packs cutting-edge computer vision into a lightweight, open cultivator frame. Reliability, ease of operation, transportation and maintenance, and the ability to configure fast and leverage the implementation in any field are the core elements of Vulcan’s value proposition. The team also just filled a handful of critical roles within their engineering department, which will help accelerate the company’s effort toward successful deliveries of its first implements by this fall. To learn more about Vulcan and how it reduces growers’ weeding bills, please get in touch with Todd Rinkenberger, VP of Sales at FarmWise, and visit farmwiselabs.com. Seven years ago, HeavyConnect Founder and CEO Patrick Zelaya was working on perfecting his pitch to present at the 2016 Startup Challenge Otter Tank. A few weeks later, his startup won first place in the Venture Division. Now, HeavyConnect is helping small farms keep track of operations in a manageable, simple interface. Using HeavyConnect, food supply chain workers can keep track of food safety compliance, connect with payroll services and more, all on one dashboard. “What we provide is a solution that makes that process a lot easier so that they can keep being farmers and not just administrative record keepers,” said Zelaya. “Our goal is to keep growing that not just at the enterprise level, but also with the smaller growers.” To make HeavyConnect a reality, Zelaya partnered with Brad Barbeau, director of the Institute for Innovation & Economic Development (iiED) at California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB), who suggested he hire student interns to work on the project. Startup Challenge is an annual competition for new businesses that teaches, coaches, mentors, networks and connects entrepreneurs to the knowledge and resources they need to succeed in the marketplace. The event is organized by the iiED, an institute of CSUMB’s College of Business. According to Zelaya, Startup Challenge prepared him and his team to successfully pitch to other audiences in the tech industry. For Zelaya, spending the most time with the growers and farm workers was a key part of HeavyConnect’s success. “What we have been building isn’t your traditional software startup,” he said. “Our experience in spending the majority of our time in the field with the growers, with the farmworkers is not something that you find coming out of the Bay Area. That was very important to our success and has given us a lot of insight to build a platform that is very intuitive for our users. Working in the industry and with farm workers directly has taught Zelaya what workers need to keep operations running smoothly. “The common thing that catches people’s eye when we deal with growers is the user interface is so simple that everyone in the operation can adopt it quickly versus having a complex training and adjustment hurdle to overcome to make that digital transformation away from paper-based workloads.” Today, HeavyConnect continues to grow throughout the country and internationally. “We’re excited to keep growing and serving this need,” Zelaya said.




MAY | JUNE 2023


Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com

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