Santa Cruz Tech Beat


Musings on the Future of AgTech

By Dennis Donohue
Director of Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology

July 7, 2020 — Salinas, CA

(Photo above: From left to right: Hank Giclas, King City Mayor Mike LeBarre, and Dennis Donohue at the AgTechX Summit in King City. Contributed)

WGCIT Director describes recently retired Hank Giclas as “an absolute legend in the agtech, crop protection and food safety space”

Hank Giclas, who recently retired after 30 years of service to Western Growers, is an absolute legend in the agtech, crop protection and food safety space, having played a crucial role in advancing science and technical aspects of agriculture and agricultural policy. In addition to serving as the “go-to” expert in all things ag science and tech, he played a formidable role in the creation of the Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology.

There is a lot of activity buzzing around agtech, but I always appreciated his consistent reminder that the role of the Center was to find solutions for Western Growers member farmers. And with good reason! In large measure, it will be a Western Growers member that buys, invests or co-develops many of the solutions that we are looking for in an effort to continue to be competitive.

Hank also encouraged creative programming and communication. The radio spots and podcasts that run as Voices of the Valley are a prime example. The Voices of the Valley podcast is a series designed to meet entrepreneurs and hear about their proposed solutions and the problems they are trying to solve. This week’s edition is a special one because we have an opportunity to hear Hank’s reflections on agtech and innovation, as well as where it’s headed and what’s important to the industry.

In any “normal” year, the industry would gather this week in Salinas for the Forbes AgTech Summit event. That will not happen this year because of COVID-19, but Hank’s comments provide rich content on industry priorities, the types of solutions Western Growers members are interested in and how the WG Center for Innovation & Technology is working to be an increasingly important resource for the future.  

Hank’s comments are worth the price of admission, and I encourage you to listen to this week’s edition of Voices in the Valley!

You can subscribe to the Voices of the Valley podcast on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts or listen to episodes on SoundCloud at


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