My story: A lifetime around agriculture
Meet Adrian Rico, Product Manager of advanced.farm BetterPack and BetterData. Adrian is one of the many talented members of the #farmteam that are passionate about leading the change to the next generation of agriculture. Read his story below!
Growing up around agriculture
Driving along the coast of the 101 between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, you’ll come across Ventura County and its picturesque emerald green fields where the fruit is grown feet away from the sandy beaches. I’ve lived along the central coast all my life, and I appreciate all the agriculture surrounding me. I have a strong family connection with agriculture. From my maternal grandparents, who had a small farm in Mexico where they raised cows and grew corn for their local community, to my dad’s parents who came to the US to work in the fields to create a better life for their children. Some of my earliest memories are waking up on Saturday mornings to freshly squeezed orange juice from the oranges my dad had brought home from work, or my family bringing over strawberries they had picked in the fields earlier that day. I promise you that there is nothing better than fresh fruits and vegetables from your local farms.
When I went off to college, I headed north on the 101 to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, one of the top universities for agriculture and engineering. Through my studies, I discovered my passion for entrepreneurship and desire to work on innovative technologies. After graduating, I knew I wanted to work in the agriculture industry, so I found a research & development job at a major produce company. Now, I’m at advanced.farm, a leading agtech startup that is building the future of farming. Agriculture has always provided my family and me with opportunities, and I’m excited to continue to work on projects that will help our food system.
What is it like working in Agtech?
Working in agtech is a daily opportunity to impact peoples’ daily lives and ensure the long-term sustainability of our global food supply chains. In my career, I’ve worked with emerging companies tackling society’s toughest challenges, such as food waste, lack of labor, sustainable growing practices, and the decreasing fresh water supply. As the population continues to grow, the food system will need to embrace these companies as they introduce new technologies to an industry that is not known for much innovation.
There is significant opportunity in the ag tech industry because there are ample critical unsolved problems that will take combining cutting-edge technology and people with diverse backgrounds and skill sets to solve. If you’re considering a job in the ag tech industry (check us out; we’re always looking for talent!), I highly recommend it. This industry has proven rewarding and given me a deeper sense of purpose because I know that I am making a difference in how people are fed today and for the years to come.
Working at advanced.farm
Since I joined advanced.farm, I’ve learned how quickly technology can develop and create solutions for growers in real time. In my first year, I’ve had the opportunity to travel up and down the pacific coast to visit strawberry fields, stone fruit orchards, and apple orchards. I appreciate every time I walk on a farmer’s land and see the hard work everyone on the field puts in to grow and harvest the fruits and vegetables on our plates.
Over the last year, the team has made significant progress in robotic strawberry harvest (millions of berries picked in 2022 alone!) and robotic apple harvest (in the first month we have already picked tens of thousands of apples) In my current role, I lead our business efforts as we commercialize a first-of-its-kind strawberry packline in 2023. It’s a thrilling experience to lead a project that can completely change how an industry operates, and create a new system that will allow growers to expand their growing regions without the constraints of the current strawberry harvesting system. Looking forward, advanced.farm has just started scratching the surface of what is possible with technology, and I know our engineering, operations, and business teams are eager to tackle what’s next.