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AgTech Summit: Silicon Valley Tackles California’s Drought

By Erin Carlyle
Forbes Staff

July 12, 2015 — Salinas, CA

(Photo above: The Dust Bowl of the 1930s beats California’s current situation. It was the worst American drought of the 20th century. Source: Forbes.com)

California is facing a massive drought, and farmers are the state’s biggest water users. On Thursday, a farmer, a lawyer, and two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs talked about ways that technology can help avert greater water catastrophe in California—and around the globe.

Here’s a start: getting farmers access to real-time data about their land. Much of farming is still based on gut feeling rather than real data, one panelist at the Forbes Reinventing America AgTech Summit in Salinas, Calif., admitted. The challenge is how to provide meaningful data in a way that doesn’t get in the way of farming logistics. In other words, in a form that helps farmers make rapid decisions rather than bogs them down.

Two companies in Salinas on Thursday described their attempts. Agralogics, a Walnut Creek, Calif.-based firm founded by MIT computer science grad Sumer Johal, helps farmers access publicly available data about their land. HydroBio, an agtech startup, uses satellite and weather data to give exact irrigation prescriptions for farm fields. HydroBio started in Amarillo, Texas, with 35,000 acres and now provides data on 100,000 acres in seven countries.

Continue reading article here: http://www.forbes.com/sites/erincarlyle/2015/07/09/forbes-agtech-summit-silicon-valley-tackles-californias-drought/

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