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"Why the jury is still out on robotics and autonomous intelligence (AI) in agriculture"

Recent company failures and layoffs will likely have people second-guessing their commitment to the agtech movement and possibly controlled environment agriculture (CEA), writes Chris Higgins at

The past 15 years of my career have seen a rollercoaster of interest in my chosen industry. In the 2000s, the Canadians and Mexicans drove investments as they rapidly expanded to give U.S. consumers year-round access to greenhouse-grown tomatoes. Then, starting between 2010-2015, vertical farmers and greenhouse leafy greens producers again jumped at the opportunity to rapidly scale new ideas as consumers demanded locally grown options. Also, investors (flush with cheap capital) enabled the rapid development of new start-ups.  

The years 2000-2021 were also a very good time to be a cannabis grower as laws changed and investors took interest and advantage of legislative changes by quickly setting up growing facilities that spared no cost. And finally, from 2020-2022, ornamental growers benefited from a seismic shift in consumer activity as people stayed home (from work and vacations). They focused on beautifying their home spaces and discovered new interests in gardening and landscaping.

With all this activity, one fact is certain: Business people from all industries tried to join the excitement. They deployed capital, and that capital inspired engineers. Those engineers then looked for (and continue looking for) opportunities to solve problems. Yet like all business cycles, opportunities shrink, people lose their jobs, and investors lose money. This often occurs because much of the hype is not real or capable of creating a solid foundation for growth. 

Some of this is also driven by people not understanding our industry (which is nothing new), its problems, and the amount of money existing industry players can afford to pay for creative solutions to their problems. 

Read the complete article at

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