In this week's North American Ag Spotlight we feature the panel that North American Ag's Chrissy Wozniak moderated at the FIRA USA conference in October. The topic "Robotics business models and the maintenance of computer based equipment" is an important one for the future of agriculture. Without a profitable business model, ag tech is useless. Hear this group discuss the challenges and opportunities in the ag-tech space.
The panel featured:
Ben Alfi - Co-Founder & CEO Blue White Robotics
Ben is a seasoned combat pilot working for more than ten years on Unmanned Systems in the IAF. In his 25 years in the IDF, Alfi served in various positions. He is an expert in testing, certifying, and operating autonomous systems for any application and an artist in bringing complicated ideas to reality. In 2017, after retiring from the IAF, Alfi founded Blue White Robotics, an innovative and leading autonomous system company. Blue White Robotics provides Robot as a Service - a complete solution for seamless and efficient adoption of autonomous technologies.
Bartley Walker - President Pacific Ag Rentals
Bartley was born and raised in the Salinas area, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Ag Management and Marketing from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Bartley joined his father in a new business venture called Pacific Ag Rentals in 2001. From the initial start of 2 tractors, now the fleet has grown to over 3,500 pieces of equipment, serving growers across a million acres of farmland across the US and Mexico. In 2017 they refined the company’s focus on supporting new technologies that make a positive impact in ag, allowing smaller farmers to have access to the latest tech.
Matt Hart Lead Engineer Betteravia Farms
Matt Hart is the lead engineer for Betteravia Farms and its sister companies. His primary objective has been developing and implementing innovative technologies and practices for all aspects of the farming operation. Prior to that Matt worked as an irrigation systems engineer for both vineyards and orchards. Matt is a graduate of the Bio-Resource and Agricultural Engineering program at California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo. He has grown up around agriculture and has been working on agricultural equipment for the last eighteen years.
Jennifer Edney President Edney Distributing Co., Inc.
Jennifer Edney is the President and Visionary of Edney Distributing Company. She’s been with the Company for nearly 15 years with prior experience in Retail and Financial Services. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of MN, earned a Wholesale Distribution Manager Certificate from The Ohio State University, and is a current MBA student at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Edney Distributing Company, Inc. is a wholesale distributor of high quality equipment focusing on agricultural, lawn and turf maintenance, forestry, and light industrial serving the upper Midwest region of the United States.
Steven Saunders CEO Robotics Plus
Steven has 35 years’ experience in the Horticultural sector and is the founder, owner of the Plus Group of companies, which specialize in horticulture management, orchard ownership, propriety fruit varieties, Steven is the co-founder of Newnham Park Innovation Centre in Tauranga New Zealand, an active Angel investor, a Director of many privately-owned companies and tech startups. He is also an Independent Director for Agrigate, a founding shareholder and Director of Rockit Global and Miro Limited. Steven is a founder, shareholder and Chairman of Robotics Plus, WNT Ventures and is a founding member of PlantTech Research Institute.
Co-organized jointly by GOFAR - the French-based nonprofit Global Organization For Agricultural Robotics, the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources and Western Growers Association, the 2022 FIRA USA was the first edition of the forum dedicated to autonomous solutions and robots for farming. FIRA stands for “Forum International de la Robotique Agricole” in French, or “International Forum for Agricultural Robotics”, and was launched in 2016 in Toulouse, south of France. Since then, GOFAR organizes the World FIRA every year in Toulouse, and launches regional FIRA around the World to address specific markets. More information: