It’s our Industry’s Make-It-Work Moment [Opinion]

Harvest CROO robotic strawberry harvester prototype construction
Harvest CROO techs Alex Figueroa (left) and Kendon Ricketts work on the latest strawberry harvester prototype.
Photo courtesy of Harvest CROO

One of my all-time favorite movies is Apollo 13. It recounts the drama that ensued when an oxygen tank exploded two days into a mission to the moon, leaving three astronauts and NASA to figure out how to get them back to Earth alive on a crippled ship.

The crew faced crisis after crisis. One of the more mundane was the need to scrub the air of CO2 in their lunar capsule lifeboat. It was designed to take two men to the moon’s surface, not support the life of three men for several days.

Precision Ag Vision Conference adEnter the nerds. A man walks in with a load of everything that is on the lunar lander and the command module, dumps it on a table. Then he holds up a square filter and a round filter, and challenges the team to make the square peg work in a round hole with only the materials available.

It’s the ultimate make-it-work moment and — what’s better — it really happened.

During the past couple of months, I’ve been listening to industry players discuss the issues vegetable growers are grappling with, and what I should be investigating on their behalf.

The industry is facing some difficult challenges, from labor, to an increase in regulations, to public ignorance on how crops are grown, to what I think is the biggest issue of all: how to sustain a business model that allows for lean years and for reinvestment long into the future.

These conversations aren’t designed so we can all indulge in a robust session of hand wringing. It’s so we here at American Vegetable Grower® magazine can act like the NASA nerds and help you figure out how to make things work for the industry.

HortTech offers info growers need. There will be many, many issues we will be tackling as we look for the tools you need to overcome these challenges. But it turns out we won’t be working alone.

Silicon Valley has taken an interest in our industry. It’s doing what we on our own would have a hard time justifying: pouring millions of dollars into horticultural research without a guarantee of return.

There are dozens and dozens of companies out there developing ways to collect data from the field, group it all together on local cloud-based platforms, organize it so it can be used, then apply it to automated systems and robots.

And now specialty crop growers’ needs for higher quality crops, not just high yields, and the much larger variety of crops, are being addressed.

American Vegetable Grower will regularly cover these advances. Look for the logo you see here, which we’ll attach to all our coverage.

Our industry has so much more to work with than those NASA engineers, who had to resort to the plastic covering off a notebook and duct tape to save the lives of their astronauts. You are going to do so much more than make it work. With the tools available, you will continue to build your business and our industry, offering the highest quality food for a hungry world.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Vegetables Stories
Inside the Horticulture field tour wagon at the 2016 Florida Ag Expo
Florida Ag Expo
September 21, 2017
Everything You Need to Know About the 2017 Florida Ag Expo
More education choices, flexible field tours, and networking opportunities to provide an enhanced attendee experience. Read More
Whiteflies on a leaf
Insect Control
September 20, 2017
Whitefly Troubles Go From Bad to Worse in Florida
Growers should have a plan for managing the pest from beginning to end of season. Read More
Grower Achievement Award
September 20, 2017
Ask Yourself: What Can I Do to Make Things Better?
Alan Jones, this year's recipient of American Vegetable Grower magazine's Grower Achievement Award, invites all growers to do what he does: Look in the mirror and ask," What can I do to make a positive impact on our industry?" Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Precision in Specialty Crops Gains Momentum
Here are some of the key drivers that may transform your farm in the years ahead. Read More
Fruits
September 19, 2017
EPA Mulls Restricting Dicamba Use
Proposal is a part of agency’s focus on reducing herbicide injury in vulnerable crops. Read More
Neo 1 hops at UF/IFAS MREC
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Hopes High for Hops Fresh From Florida
When it comes to alternative crop solutions, something good is brewing in the Sunshine State. Do you have what it takes to tap in? Read More
Winter melon damage from Hurricane Irma in Elkton, FL
Citrus
September 15, 2017
Help Extended to Hurricane-Weary Farmers Dealing With Disaster
USDA chief grants extra time and special procedures to document and file claims. Read More
raindrops in standing water
Citrus
September 13, 2017
New Guidance on FSMA Ag Water Compliance, Water Testing, and Farm Inspections Announced
FDA issued a rule to extend compliance dates for agricultural water and announced a start date for farm inspections. Read More
Packinghouse damage from Irma at SWFREC in Immokalee
Citrus
September 13, 2017
Florida Farmers Digging out From Impacts of Irma
Damage reports starting to flood in from the field following monster storm, and it's not pretty. Read More
Tomatoes
September 13, 2017
550 Pounds of Tomatoes Stolen from Massachusetts Farm
Community farm in Waltham, MA, has been hit by a thief three years running. Read More
Farm Management
September 10, 2017
$3 Million Available to Train Future Agriculture Leaders
There are a lot more jobs being created than there are graduates with bachelor’s or higher degrees who can fill them. Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Summer News Stories that Have Growers Talking
Farming has been in the media spotlight this year. I asked each of this month’s columnists and contributors for their Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Whose Sustainable Standard Wins?
Retailers’ race to win the most sustainable produce prize leaves growers trying to keep up with fast-developing demands. Read More
Business Planning
September 7, 2017
Make Failure Your Secret Weapon [Opinion]
Something this year's winner of American Vegetable Grower magazine’s Grower Achievement Award, Alan Jones, said really highlights why he and his wife, Leslie, are doing so well with their farm: “To be innovative, you have to be willing to fail.” Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Improving Water Management: Can Silicon Valley Help?
Though very much-needed, technological solutions must be cost-effective and industry appropriate. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
September 22, 2017
Water Management Concerns Flowing in Flo…
Efforts mounted and executed to move gallons by the ton to protect property. Read More
Citrus
September 22, 2017
When it Comes to Growing, Florida Farmer…
Let's raise a toast to the bold producers and researchers who are taking our industry beyond previously perceived crop viability boundaries to places once figured forbidden. Read More
Citrus
September 21, 2017
Hurricane Relief Fund Launched for Flori…
Money raised will benefit Redlands Christian Migrant Association’s efforts to aid families in need. Read More
Florida Ag Expo
September 21, 2017
Everything You Need to Know About the 20…
More education choices, flexible field tours, and networking opportunities to provide an enhanced attendee experience. Read More
Insect Control
September 20, 2017
Whitefly Troubles Go From Bad to Worse i…
Growers should have a plan for managing the pest from beginning to end of season. Read More
Grower Achievement Award
September 20, 2017
Ask Yourself: What Can I Do to Make Thin…
Alan Jones, this year's recipient of American Vegetable Grower magazine's Grower Achievement Award, invites all growers to do what he does: Look in the mirror and ask," What can I do to make a positive impact on our industry?" Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Precision in Specialty Crops Gains Momen…
Here are some of the key drivers that may transform your farm in the years ahead. Read More
Fruits
September 19, 2017
EPA Mulls Restricting Dicamba Use
Proposal is a part of agency’s focus on reducing herbicide injury in vulnerable crops. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Hopes High for Hops Fresh From Florida
When it comes to alternative crop solutions, something good is brewing in the Sunshine State. Do you have what it takes to tap in? Read More
Citrus
September 15, 2017
Help Extended to Hurricane-Weary Farmers…
USDA chief grants extra time and special procedures to document and file claims. Read More
Citrus
September 13, 2017
New Guidance on FSMA Ag Water Compliance…
FDA issued a rule to extend compliance dates for agricultural water and announced a start date for farm inspections. Read More
Citrus
September 13, 2017
Florida Farmers Digging out From Impacts…
Damage reports starting to flood in from the field following monster storm, and it's not pretty. Read More
Tomatoes
September 13, 2017
550 Pounds of Tomatoes Stolen from Massa…
Community farm in Waltham, MA, has been hit by a thief three years running. Read More
Farm Management
September 10, 2017
$3 Million Available to Train Future Agr…
There are a lot more jobs being created than there are graduates with bachelor’s or higher degrees who can fill them. Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Summer News Stories that Have Growers Ta…
Farming has been in the media spotlight this year. I asked each of this month’s columnists and contributors for their Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Whose Sustainable Standard Wins?
Retailers’ race to win the most sustainable produce prize leaves growers trying to keep up with fast-developing demands. Read More
Business Planning
September 7, 2017
Make Failure Your Secret Weapon [Opinion…
Something this year's winner of American Vegetable Grower magazine’s Grower Achievement Award, Alan Jones, said really highlights why he and his wife, Leslie, are doing so well with their farm: “To be innovative, you have to be willing to fail.” Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Improving Water Management: Can Silicon …
Though very much-needed, technological solutions must be cost-effective and industry appropriate. Read More