FIRA, the Agricultural Robotics Event, launches its U.S. edition in Fresno, California on Oct 18-20 2022 and Silicon Valley Robotics is pleased to be one of the event partners. FIRA USA 2022 will bring together specialty crop growers, robot manufacturers, industrials, academics, technologists, startups and investors for 3 days of problem-solving, decision making and planning. The event is jointly organized between the French association GOFAR, the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, Western Growers Association and the Fresno-Merced Future of Food (F3) Initiative.
“Since 2016, FIRA has primarily hosted its flagship event in Toulouse, France,” says Maialen Cazenave and Gwendoline Legrand, FIRA co-directors. “The expert event decided to join forces with local players to launch the first edition abroad, and FIRA USA was born.”
FIRA USA organizers held a press conference April 12 at the event site in Fresno. The location is significant for several reasons: Fresno is part of California’s fertile San Joaquin Valley, a hub for specialty crop growers. The Golden State also provides a prime location for companies interested in tapping into a highly profitable agriculture market—one that produces more than 400 commodities and two-thirds of the total fruits and nuts crops in the U.S. California farmers and ranchers earned $49.1 billion in cash receipts for their output in 2020 alone.
Walt Duflock, Western Growers vice president of innovation, is working to advance the pace of innovation in this sector through the Global Harvest Automation Initiative, which will be presented at FIRA USA 2022. One of the initiative’s goals is to automate 50% of the specialty crop harvest in the next 10 years.
“We really wanted to bring a FIRA event to the U.S. because the U.S. market for specialty crop ag tech startups is the first or second market to enter, so it makes perfect sense to have this event right in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley,” Duflock says. “FIRA USA organizes the entire specialty crop community – educators, commercialization folks, startup companies, and large and small growers—and puts the entire event focus on specialty crop automation for three days.”
Specialty crops have much to gain from ag robotics and automation. Specialty crops, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture,” tend to be more labor-intensive to produce and pick, and require more sophisticated technological solutions.
3-Day Event Planned
To help ensure the success of this first-time event, FIRA partnered with Gabriel Youtsey, chief innovation officer at the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.
“FIRA USA is designed for developing practical, real-world solutions,” Youtsey said. “I’m thrilled to advance the ag robotics and automation ecosystem in the Central Valley through this event. Our overall goal is to accelerate the pace of innovation and industry adoption of new technologies that create sustainable growth and profitability of our agriculture industry.”
To keep the event focused on actionable outcomes, FIRA USA is structured to maximize opportunities for networking, learning and collaboration. Each of the 3 days has a theme: research and development, technology and business day, and demonstration.
- October 18: Research & Development Day
The R&D day will bring hundreds of scientists and students together. It will provide the opportunity for new agricultural technologists in universities around the country that are winning some of the new artificial intelligence grants for agricultural automation to present their projects. By bringing this academic community together face-to-face in Fresno, FIRA USA aims to set priorities and focus on solving some pain points.
- October 19: Technology & Business Day
With a full expo zone, an agenda of panel discussions, breakout sessions and networking times, the second day will bring together the autonomous solutions and end-users. FIRA USA will engage the grower in the conversation to make it real and make the presentation more relevant for grower audiences that want to get the grower and startup perspective on the solution.
In the panel discussions, breakout sessions and roundtables, participants will build on several big-picture themes: understanding specific specialty crops, introducing different levels of automation and smart technologies, optimizing mechanization, prioritizing value for growers of all sizes, tackling labor shortage, addressing climate-smart objectives, determining appropriate ownership and maintenance models, and more.
- October 20: Demo Day
On the third day, FIRA USA will host in-field robot demos at the California State University Fresno campus farm. Participants will have the opportunity to watch dozens of robots working in real conditions:
- Harvesting, weeding, seeding, thinning and planting robots;
- Irrigation automation and data analytics solutions;
- Focus on field crops, fruits and vegetables, and vineyards
To learn more about this upcoming event, visit www.fira-agtech.com/event/fira-usa.
The GOFAR non-profit organization undertakes to promote and develop the agricultural robotics sector at international level. GOFAR meets the increasing need for visibility and networking of the agricultural robotics sector.
GOFAR, therefore, aims to organize the meeting between the relevant stakeholders, and to support them by taking an active part in the development of the agricultural robotics market hence implementing a promotional campaign of international scale (organization of events, production of actions of communication and participation of trade fairs in France and abroad).
The GOFAR association focuses its activity on four main work streams:
- Organizing annually the International Forum of Agricultural Robotics (FIRA), both Online and in-person in Toulouse (France);
- Setting up international collaborations;
- Development of an information platform around the Agricultural Robotics sector – www.agricultural-robotics.com;
- Creation and animation of a network of leading international experts in agricultural robotics.
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources
UC Agriculture and Natural Resources connects the power of UC science and technology in agriculture and natural resources with industry and communities to improve the lives of all Californians.
Our programs focus on solving priority problems that engage scientists, students and industry in integrated teams to work on complex issues.
ANR’s field innovation centers located in important California agriculture regions, support research and education. Research projects deliver the highest-quality science to growers, industry and land managers.
Western Growers Association
Founded in 1926, Western Growers represents local and regional family farmers growing fresh produce in Arizona, California, Colorado and New Mexico. Our members and their workers provide over half the nation’s fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts, including nearly half of America’s fresh organic produce. Some members also farm throughout the U.S. and in other countries, so people have year-round access to nutritious food. For generations, we have provided variety and healthy choices to consumers.
Fresno-Merced Future of Food (F3) Innovation Initiative
The Fresno-Merced Future of Food (F3) Innovation Initiative seeks to develop world-recognized, “ClimateSmart Food and Agriculture Systems” that provide solutions to economic and environmental challenges within the Central Valley. These solutions will result in both technology that can be exported to solve global food production challenges and increased support for local and regional food systems, including organic production practices and small-scale and socially disadvantaged farmers. F3 champions sustainable food systems that meet human, and ecosystem needs, facilitated by innovation in technologies that are affordable, appropriately scaled and accessible to local farmers and food businesses, with applications for the global farming community.
F3 simultaneously advances workforce training and educational opportunities for local farm and food system workers to ensure just and equitable innovation processes and technology adoption. F3 is one element of the comprehensive Fresno DRIVE investment plan, a ten-year, community-led vitality strategy for inclusive and sustainable economic development in the Greater Fresno Region.
GOFAR: Gwendoline Legrand – firstname.lastname@example.org
Western Growers: Ann Donahue – email@example.com