Technology + Agriculture = Success

Published in The Wenatchee Valley Business World

Everywhere we look, technology is at our fingertips. For most, it is the method that we use to consume our news, plan vacations, and communicate with friends and family. But when you enjoy a glass of lovely Washington wine or take a bite of a crisp Washington apple, do you stop and think about the technology that may have gone into that experience?

Technology has become an increasingly important and integral part of how agricultural businesses continue to evolve and thrive. With every irrigation season and harvest, the use of technology to produce crops is ever-expanding. And once the crop is ready for retail sales and public consumption, technology permeates how the grower and sales broker monitors, tracks, and seeks to influence trends in the marketplace.

Consider these recent examples:

  • Irrigation and water usage:

    • Scientists at Iowa State University developed graphene-based, sensors-on-tape that can be attached to plants in order to provide data to farmers about water use in crops. Using this sort of technology opens up doors for farms to begin breeding plants with better water efficiency and it paves the way for further expansion of these technology sensors to monitor the environment and test crops for diseases or pesticides.

  • Plant longevity and hardiness:

    • In efforts to extend the life of grapevines, vintners may begin employing a new method of renewal pruning with a three-cane treatment strategy published by extension agent and viticulturist researchers Hemand Gohil and Markus Keller.

    • The Washington State University cherry breeding program is using enhancements to extend flower longevity and embryo rescue techniques to obtain increased numbers of viable seeds.

    • Oregon State University research is developing site-specific modeling for testing and evaluating weather conditions for cherry hardiness in colder temperatures.

  • Insect control:

    • As codling moth outbreaks continue to impact apple and pear crops, the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission has been working on and promoting codling moth mating disruption via pheromone-based technology for over two decades.

  • Processing:

    • Larry Stone of Lingua Franca winery uses technology and innovation in his custom-made tanks that integrate lines that allow for both heating and cooling, and his chardonnay room has a separate heating system to accommodate for colder nights. This winery also utilizes a unique European press device that controls the intensity of the grape press in order to produce their desired result.

These are just a few recent examples showcasing different ways that innovation and technology is shaping the way the agricultural industry does business. The landscape for farming is dynamic. With increased demand for crops and the constantly changing environment and market forces, the agricultural industry has been at the forefront of continual growth and discovery to use different techniques, methods, and processes. Developments in technology are being utilized to assist all angles, from plant growth and field operations to warehouse advances to the way we purchase and enjoy the fruits of this labor.

The next time you wander through the farmer’s market or drink a refreshing glass of hard cider, know that technology and innovative solutions were part of bringing this from field to table.

Colleen Frei is a partner with Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn & Aylward, P.S. practicing in many areas of law including agriculture, business, water law, succession planning, intellectual property, real estate and estate planning.

If you have questions about this article or another agricultural law matter, please contact Colleen at 509-662-3685 or

[Content provided in this article should be used for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the advice of a relevant professional with any questions about any legal decision you are seeking to make.]