Water Efficiency Innovations in Agriculture

Leo Zhang

California Governor Jerry Brown recently issued an executive order for mandatory water restrictions in order to deal with the state’s worst drought in history. The initiative mostly focuses on urban water use, with the goal of reducing water usage by 25%.

Meanwhile, in California, agriculture activities make up more than 75% of the state’s total water consumption. Although the executive order focuses more on urban consumption, improvements in agriculture water efficiency can lead to significant water savings as well. Through our proprietary i3 platform, we have already seen innovative technologies being developed to precisely reduce water usage in the agriculture sector.

Through the lens of i3, we have observed the following two themes in the nexus of agriculture & water:

Agricultural Biotechnology

The introduction of biotechnology to the agriculture sector, such as plant genomics, now gives crop companies the genetic manipulation tools to express drought tolerance genes, thereby reducing the need for large amounts of irrigation. For example, Arcadia Biosciences has developed technologies to increase water and nitrogen efficiencies in agriculture crops.

Precision Agriculture

In addition to biotechnology, we’ve also seen innovations in both hardware and software to improve efficiency over traditional agriculture practices. On agriculture hardware, the use of drones for crop surveillance has gained significant attention as a way to minimize cost and increase planting efficiency. PrecisionHawk, a leader in the development of unmanned aerial systems, has raised over $11M in equity financing for its artificial intelligence application in agriculture.

We have also witnessed software applications targeting the agriculture sector. For instance, smart irrigation leverages IT solutions to enable automatic detection/analysis to achieve the most efficient irrigation schedule.

Cleantech_Forum_EU_200Wx200H_R1Interested to learn more about innovation in the agriculture sector? Join us in Florence, Italy at our Cleantech Forum Europe on April 27-29 and attend our thought-provoking session titled Has a Feeding Frenzy Begun around Sustainable Food and Beverages?