Initial 2024 Salinas Biological Summit Speakers revealed

Initial 2024 Salinas Biological Summit Speakers revealed

Following last year’s sell-out 2023 Salinas Biological Summit, we are delighted to introduce you to some of the awesome speakers and experts we have lined up for this year’s 2024 Summit June.
  • Amy O’Shea – President and CEO, Certis Biologicals
  • Carl Casale – Founder, Ospraie Ag Science
  • Don Cameron – President of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture; VP and GM of Terranova Ranch
  • Jerry Baron – Executive Director, The IR-4 Project
  • Josette Lewis – Chief Scientific Officer, Almond Board of California
  • Julie Henderson – Director, California Department of Pesticide Regulation
  • Keith Pitts – SVP, Sustainability and Regulatory Strategy, Bioceres Crop Solutions
  • Kevin Andrew – SVP, Operations, Illume
  • Pam Marrone – Co-founder & Executive Chair, Invasive Species Foundation and Invasive Species Corporation
  • Adrian Percy – Executive Director, N.C Plant Sciences Initiative
  • Secretary Karen Ross – California Department of Food & Agriculture
  • Sherry Frey – VP, Total Wellness – NielsenIQ
  • Stuart Woolf – Chair, Western Growers; President and CEO of Woolf Farming & Processing
  • Terry Stone – Global Biologicals Regulatory Policy Leader, Corteva Agriscience
We’ll be sharing details of further speakers over the coming weeks. With a number of international delegations planning to attend, this year’s 2024 Summit will bring growers, researchers, agritech companies and policy-makers together from around the world.
Honoured to receive the Agritech NZ Lifetime Achievement Award

Honoured to receive the Agritech NZ Lifetime Achievement Award

Overnight, I was delighted and honoured to be presented with the first ever Agritech NZ Lifetime Achievement Award at New Zealand’s Parliament.

In the very best Oscar tradition, Jacqui and I were unfortunately unable to attend in person. We are currently in the UK, midway through a 3-month tour of key offshore agritech markets, promoting the Global Biological Accelerator we are building with our US-based partners, Western Growers.

When Jacqui and I began to develop the Agritech New Zealand model back in 2016, we could not really have envisaged just how significant it would become. By bringing together industry, research & government, it set a gold standard for sector development that is now being copied around the world.

The organisation’s launch in 2018 would not have been possible without the support of some key New Zealand stakeholders. I have to commend the significant contribution made by some of our earliest supporters. Dion CawoodRob HeebinkKevin CooneySimon YarrowJason ReevesGraeme MullerEvelyn Seewald & David Walker.

For Jacqui and myself, the formal launch of the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan in July 2020 with Ministers Damien OConnor & Phil Twyford at Zespri International was a key milestone for both the organisation and the sector. Hat doffed to our key NZ government agency collaborators, David Downs & Arek ‘The Great’ for helping make this happen.

The other key milestone in 2020 was the successful merger of Agritech New Zealand and the Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand. It created a single entity to advance the growth and development of the country’s AgriFoodTech sector.

Today, Agritech NZ is ably led Brendan O’ConnellKylie HoromiaBridgit Hawkins and the Agritech NZ Executive Committee. I can honestly say that the universal feedback I receive from offshore partners, is that New Zealand remains the Gold Standard for agritech ecosystem development. I believe it provides a significant platform for the organisation to take a global leadership role in addressing some of the key challenges facing farmers and growers both at home and worldwide.

Last night’s award was hugely appreciated by Jacqui and myself. Kudos to everyone involved in the development of New Zealand’s agritech sector. Our role is now to support that message in global markets and build not only New Zealand’s but also the wider trans-Tasman region’s offshore profile.

Together, we can make this happen!

Talking biologicals with Scott Komar at Driscolls

Talking biologicals with Scott Komar at Driscolls

It was great to catch up with Scott Kumar, Senior Vice-President of Global Research & Design at Driscoll’s today. After several weeks of rain battered California, it was good to introduce a bit of New Zealand summer sunshine and warmth to the region!

As we prepare for June’s 2023 Salinas Biological Summit, meeting and talking to grower organisations across the Western Grower network is critical. Driscoll’s is a major seller of fresh strawberries and other berries. It is a fourth-generation family business that has been in the Reiter and Driscoll families since the late 1800s. In 2017, it controlled roughly one-third of the $6 billion U.S. berry market. Headquartered in Watsonville, Driscoll’s develops proprietary breeds of berries and then licenses them exclusively through approved growers.

Over the coming days, Dennis Donohue, Director of the Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center and I will be visiting growers and other key players across the State. Understanding their concerns and their motivations will help us develop the Summit program for June. The really good news is that interest is high, and we anticipate announcing a stellar line-up of speakers in early February. Today’s meeting with Scott was evident of that.

If you have not already registered your interest in the Summit, you can do so today by visiting the Summit portal.


Announcing the dates of the 2023 Salinas Biological Summit

Announcing the dates of the 2023 Salinas Biological Summit

Western Growers and global agritech consultancy, Wharf42, are delighted to announce the dates of the 2023 Salinas Biological Summit.

On 20-21 June 2023, to support growers deepen their knowledge of globally applied biological solutions, the 2035 Salinas Biological Summit will showcase both US and internationally-sourced, science-based biological applications.

The two-day Summit will feature keynote speakers, plenary sessions and targeted panel discussions.  The Summit will host an exhibition of biological solutions and provide a major platform for growers to meet and engage with peers from around the world.

The Summit outcomes include:

  • The opportunity for growers to increase their awareness of available biological solutions to address both their soil and plant needs and for major global agribusinesses to learn more about some of the emerging disruptive science and start-up activity in this space
  • The opportunity for agritech start-ups and investors to address scaleable opportunities in the biological arena
  • The opportunity for scientists and researchers from around the world to get a better understanding of the specific challenges facing US growers across the entire specialty crop domain

Learn more and register your interest at 

ANZLF 2022 – A significant trans-Tasman relationship reset

ANZLF 2022 – A significant trans-Tasman relationship reset

I have been privileged to attend the 2022 Australia New Zealand Leadership Forum (ANZLF) in Sydney. It has been an epic 2 days.

At the 2019 ANZLF meeting  in Auckland, Wharf42 co-founded the Australia New Zealand Agritech Council with nascent members of the Australian Agritech Association. Over the past two days, agritech has been a feature of the 2022 programme.  It reflects just how far the trans-Tasman agritech relationship has developed.

On reflection however, I feel that the most significant development witnessed this year was the very clear and close personal relationship between Prime Ministers Ardern and Albanese. This offers very real value to the longer term trans-Tasman opportunity to build new, strong business and people partnerships. I would classify this as a fundamental relationship reset.

For Wharf42, this maps our own direction over the past 3-4 years. It also reflects the strong Australian-based partnerships with the 2035 Oceania Summit through its deep engagement with Agrifutures Australia, evokeAG, growAG and ACIAR.

As the Summit’s programme builds, Australian input and engagement is key. This week’s ANZLF meeting provides some insight into how this can be captured. From the Oceania region’s perspective in these tumultuous and challenging times, this reset could not have happened at a better time.