I am very pleased to announce that with a $20 million award from the National Science Foundation and several federal agencies, UC ANR is collaborating with UC Davis and other institutions to create a new artificial intelligence institute for next-generation food systems.
The farming/food industry is experiencing a technology revolution. Digital, biological and mechanical innovations are being applied to solve long-standing challenges such as the impacts of climate change, ensuring food and nutrition security, and sustainable and profitable crop production. Artificial intelligence (AI) can be applied to most of these innovations, as they all have one common attribute: they produce and consume large amounts of data. AI is a way to put the large amount of data we have to work for us, making computers and machines smarter and more effective.
The USDA-NSF AI for Next Generation Food Systems (AIFS) puts UC ANR in a leading role with UC Davis, UC Berkeley, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Cornell in developing AI-based technology for the food system, but,perhaps more importantly, in applying them in real-world situations, training a next-generation workforce, and engaging the public in their value.
UC ANR staff and academics will have the opportunity to engage with AIFS through virtual and live events, research, extension and commercialization projects, workforce development activities and more. In many ways, AIFS will be a new support center for UC ANR staff and academics, helping to provide the latest training and tools for UC ANR's Cooperative Extension and outreach activities in California and beyond.
Gabe Youtsey, UC ANR chief innovation officer and Maggi Kelly, director of UC ANR's Informatics and GIS program, will be the primary UC ANR contacts for AIFS. In the coming weeks, AIFS will provide further information about events and ways to engage. Please reach out to email@example.com to express your interest in getting more information as AIFS is launched.
- Author: Tyler Ash
On Jan. 30, 2018, another seed was planted for the future of Northern California's agriculture industry. That seed was a commitment to innovation and new technologies in a region where the primary economic driver is agriculture.
Around 200 people, including farmers, ag innovators and venture capitalists, attended an event in Woodland titled “Creating Northern California's Ag Innovation Hub,” presented by UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, AgStart, The Food Front and the City of Woodland.
Glenda Humiston, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources, gave the keynote speech and talked about the importance of synergy between agriculture, innovation and technology in California, while discussing 21st century challenges, such as rural broadband connectivity, going forward.
“Entrepreneurship in our rural areas is far greater than in our urban areas,” Humiston said on ag tech innovation.
She urged ag innovators to use UC institutions and programs, including the UC Integrated Pest Management Program, the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, the Agricultural Issues Center, UC Informatics and GIS, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, California 4-H, California Naturalist, the UC Master Gardener Program, the UC Master Food Preserver Program, the California Institute for Water Resources, the UC Nutrition Policy Institute, the UC Cooperative Extension system, the UC Research Extension Center system, Apps for Ag, along with all of the UC campuses.
There were two panel discussions during the event, both of which were moderated by Lon Hatamiya of The Hatamiya Group.
The first panel focused on agriculture in the global and statewide perspective. Panelists included Gabe Youtsey of UC ANR, Seana Day of Better Food Ventures and The Mixing Bowl Hub, Megan Nunes of Vinsight and John Selep of AgStart.
“One of the key innovations that needs to happen is marrying the ‘strange bedfellows' of data science and the grower and ag community,” said Youtsey, UC ANR's chief innovation officer.
He talked about thinking outside the box on public and private partnerships to create a better ecosystem for collaboration in the California ag tech community. Youtsey also noted that rural broadband connectivity was the limiting factor to bridging the gap between the Central Valley and Silicon Valley, and affirmed that UC ANR's Verde Innovation Network for Entrepreneurship (VINE) was working hard to address this.
“We have the opportunity here to create a world-class innovation hub that will be second-to-none,” he said.
Nunes of Vinsight, a software for winegrowers, stated that “UC Davis research is kind of the first ‘open source' for ag tech and innovation.”
The second panel focused on the regional and local perspective of agriculture. The panelists were Justin Siegel of the UC Davis Genome Center, Frank Muller of Muller Ranch, Dennis Donohue of Western Growers, and Ken Hiatt of the City of Woodland and The Food Front.
Siegel indicated that the tech industry is beginning to hit a steady state now and doesn't have as much exponential growth as before, but there are still huge numbers of entrepreneurs flooding into it.
“Ag tech needs to capitalize on educating them about ag,” he said.
Muller of Muller Ranch, a Yolo County diversified farm consisting of several thousand acres, touched on the importance of technology in agriculture.
“For me, ag tech is finding new ways to produce more with less and to do it more sustainably,” he said.
Woodland officials have already identified a 351-acre site for a mixed-use research park about eight miles north of UC Davis, where both commercial and residential development will be modeled after other successful tech parks near research universities in California. The only difference will be that this one will be focused on agricultural technology and will provide a place for new companies to incubate, grow, collaborate and prosper.
Related reading about creating Northern California's Ag Innovation Hub:
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Lori Berger has been promoted to academic coordinator for the Pests, Pesticides and IPM Project, effective Oct. 15. Berger joined ANR in 2014 as a project coordinator for the UC ANR Statewide IPM Program. In this role, she coordinated a project to identify and manage critical uses of chlorpyrifos in almonds, citrus, cotton and alfalfa. The work included analysis of research and policy gaps for IPM, crop protection chemicals and alternative technologies pending regulatory concerns and anticipated regulations. She also developed and managed a statewide outreach program for new web-based decision support tools.
Before joining UC ANR, Berger was the founding executive director of the grower-supported California Specialty Crops Council, leading technical and regulatory affairs for a diverse array of fresh and processed fruit, vegetable, berry and vine crops from 2000 to 2013. She has also worked for two Fortune 500 companies in R&D and technical services for new product and market development.
Throughout her career, Berger has worked extensively with the regulatory community in developing science-based approaches to pest management and agricultural production. She has been an appointed member on several USDA and EPA federal advisory committees, including the Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee (PPDC), Committee to Advise on Reassessment and Transition (CARAT), and the Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Committee (FRRCC). In these roles, she has shared her expertise on pest management, pollinator protection, international MRLs, water quality and soil health.
Berger holds a Ph.D. in entomology from Texas A&M University, an M.S. in entomology from Oklahoma State University and a B.S. in crop science from the University of Wyoming. She also earned an MBA from the Sid Craig School of Business at California State University at Fresno. A graduate of the California Agricultural Leadership Program, Berger is a licensed pest control adviser and certified crop adviser.
Berger is based at the Kearney Agricultural Research and Education Center in Parlier and can be reached at (559) 646-6523 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
As of Jan. 12, Gabe Youtsey, chief information officer, has been appointed to serve as UC ANR's Chief Innovation Officer during 2017 to work directly with VP Glenda Humiston in support of one of the division's key objectives, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, as outlined in our strategic plan.
In accepting this assignment, Youtsey will be a key catalyst in the Innovation and Entrepreneurship initiative, working both within UC and with external industry, government and academic institutions to partner in creating ANR's innovation and entrepreneurship program.
The program is aimed at facilitating ANR impacts in agriculture and natural resources through a new statewide support system that will allow new technologies to be explored, adopted and ramped up faster. Another facet of the program is to create a pipeline of new entrepreneurs for the booming field of agricultural technology.
“New groups of people – from high school students to Silicon Valley professionals – are showing lots of interest in where their food comes from, and in solving pressing problems to preserve California for generations to come,” Youtsey said. “ANR's Innovation and Entrepreneurship program is meant to build a statewide bridge that spans industries and allows UC ‘ag tech' entrepreneurs to thrive, and brings in the new talent and energy of students and professionals in other industries.”
He will continue to participate on the Senior Leadership Team and the Vice President's Council and will continue to advise the vice president and Tu Tran, associate vice president for UC ANR Business Operations, on information technology and cyber risk issues as the Cyber Risk Executive for the division.
In this new role, Youtsey will turn responsibility for management and operations of the Information Technology unit over to Dave Krause, web and application development manager, and Tolgay Kizilelma, infrastructure and support manager. Krause and Kizilelma will report directly to Tran during this period.
After an open search, Jing Yu has been named ANR's director of Financial Services.
Yu, who has served in the interim director's role for the past year, assumes leadership of a function that has increasing strategic importance in the years ahead, at ANR and UC systemwide, with a focus on modernizing financial and business systems in addition to a focus toward balance sheet financial management to best support future capital needs and debt financing, said Jake McGuire, controller.
Yu joined ANRFinancial Services in 2013 from the UC Berkeley Controller's Office, where she started her career with UC in 2009. She is a California certified public accountant (CPA), has a master's degree in accounting and finance, and over 15 years of business, finance and accounting experience in the institutional, corporate and public accounting firm sectors.
Yu is based on the 10th floor at UC Office of the President in Oakland and can be reached at (510) 987-0059 and Jing.Yu@ucop.edu.
Robert Hutmacher, UC Cooperative Extension cotton specialist and West Side Research and Extension Center director, was named the 2017 Cotton Specialist of the Year at the Beltwide Cotton Conference in Dallas, Texas.
“Dr. Robert Hutmacher is a master of defining a grower challenge, rallying all parties to come to the table to address the challenge and then working with growers to put that science to work in their fields,” said Kenny Melton, Bayer western regional agronomic manager. “Whether the challenge is finding resistance to Fusarium wilt Race 4 or increasing water efficiency, Dr. Hutmacher rises to the challenge. It's an honor to work with him and a special joy to help bestow this award.”
The 2016 recipient, Gaylon Morgan, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service cotton specialist, presented the 2017 award to Hutmacher.
“Bob is a highly respected leader who California growers depend on to navigate the ups and downs of the cotton industry in their state,” said Morgan. “He has helped growers find the path to profitability. That kind of leadership is essential not only in California, but also nationally. He has earned this honor many times over.”
ANR will host the Statewide Apps for Ag Hackathon at the UC ANR building in Davis July 15–17. The finals will be held at the California Exposition and State Fair in Sacramento on July 17 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Gabriel Youtsey, chief information officer, invites everyone to participate in the unique design-and-development competitive hackathon, which he hopes will lead to solutions to on-farm problems in agriculture and food.
“We would really like to see participants come from all corners of the state, including mixed teams of software developers, students, designers, entrepreneurs, and agricultural experts coming together to solve real problems for our farmers and communities with technology,” said Youtsey.
“We are open to a variety of ways for you to participate, including as panelists at the event, identifying a key challenge in some area of agriculture, a member of a team, an observer or perhaps even a judge,” said Youtsey. “We would very much appreciate if you can forward this to colleagues or students that might be interested in attending or sponsoring the event.”
More information can be found at http://www.apps-for-ag.com. The form for sponsors is at http://ucanr.edu/sites/anrstaff/files/240840.pdf. A flyer for the event can be downloaded at http://ucanr.edu/sites/anrstaff/files/240869.pdf.
If you have questions or would like to participate, contact Youtsey at (530) 750-1314 or email@example.com.