Agtech

Farming meets science in California’s agtech industry, and the Central Coast has both in abundance.

The region’s deep agricultural roots and celebrated wine industry — spanning Paso Robles, SLO Coastal, Santa Maria, Santa Ynez and Santa Barbara — are reaching into the future with precision farming and innovative sustainability practices to conserve water, increase efficiency and boost profitability.

These practices have helped total crop values and the industry’s economic impact to grow by more than a third over the last decade. With the Central Coast’s strong sense of stewardship for its natural assets, advancing sustainability is a key focus to ensuring the land continues to provide for generations to come.

RECENT HIGHLIGHTS

  • Santa Barbara-based Apeel Sciences, developer of plant-based coatings to extend produce shelf life, took a second $250 million investment round in August, making it one of the hottest startups in foodtech
  • Global Algae, an innovator in carbon removal, is building a 160-acre commercial algae farm in eastern San Luis Obispo County, an investment of $46 million and 52 new jobs, thanks in part to a CalCompetes tax credit
  • The Paso Robles location of the Cal Poly CIE Incubator program recently launched an agtech incubator to help grow early stage companies in the industry
  • Grimmway Farms/Cal-Organics donated $5 million to establish the Center for Organic Production and Research at Cal Poly to advance innovation in the state’s $10 billion organic industry, as well as the Soil Health and Sustainability Laboratories to research healthy soil, water and air issues
  • Headquartered in San Luis Obispo with operations throughout the U.S. and Canada, Hortau has raised $66 million from global investors to fund its precision irrigation technology

$2.8B

SLO + Santa Barbara County crop value 2020

$5B

agtech investment in California in 2020, more than the next 4 states combined

10,000

ag acres at Cal Poly dedicated to research and learning

ASSETS + RESOURCES

A students tends to rows of lettuce

Cal Poly

The top 5 College of Agriculture Food and Environmental Sciences cultivates  partnerships and innovation through applied research centers including the Irrigation Training & Research Center, the new $22 million Justin and J.Lohr Center for Wine and Viticulture, and the Strawberry Center.

Two chairs overlooking a vineyard view

Robust ecosystem

The Central Coast is home to an abundant agricultural ecosystem, with two active Farm Bureaus, a handful of wine region alliances and specialized business services such as banking and insurance. A SLO County Farm Trail connects the industry to the region’s thriving tourism scene.

Man shows a chart to a small crowd in a vineyard

Sustainable Ag Expo

This annual event presents the latest agtech research from experts across the world, hosted by the Vineyard Team, an internationally recognized leader in sustainable winegrowing and developer of the SIP-certified sustainable wine designation.

Agtech incubator

The successful HotHouse incubator has launched an agtech incubator at the Sandbox in Paso Robles, offering a range of services to support and scale startups in agriculture technology. The location also houses an SBDC outreach center.

Allan Hancock

The college has a rapidly growing agriculture program — including an industrial hemp research program and a National Science Foundation-funded project advancing precision agriculture through industry partnerships — as well as viticulture and enology.

UC-Santa Barbara

Several UCSB programs advance the field of agriculture, including the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, the UCSB Smart Farm, and the Food-Energy-Water focus area at the Institute for Energy Efficiency.

Agriculture businesses

Explore the map below to discover the breadth of agricultural operations in the region.