FoA 397: Can These Greenhouse Robots Grow The Best Strawberries in the World?

Variable Rate done RIGHT with SWAT MAPS: https://swatmaps.com/

Zordi: https://www.zordi.com/

Casey Call on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/casey-call-03a3b03b/

Technology in agriculture can help reduce production costs and improve efficiencies, but it can also open up new possibilities for quality that goes beyond the average consumers’ expectations. 

“Our economic picture is to be able to capitalize on growing a better product and supplying a better product to the consumer, but also being able to kind of fix our labor costs and control those to a certain point.”

That’s Casey Call, co-founder of Zordi. Which I first thought was a robotics company focused on building robots for greenhouse agriculture. Turns out they are that and more - using their own proprietary technology to build  and operate their own greenhouse farms. 

“Getting people access to this produce is kind of the key. When people start having our strawberries, they're like, oh, well we get it now. And so getting more and more of this infrastructure built, getting more and more access to these things in stores, I think is the path that we're on.” 

This focus on quality and the latest in technology has some thought-provoking insights on the path forward. 

“We're gonna have to seek technology solutions. We're gonna have to seek new ways of planting, harvesting, processing, and selling food to people if we want to maintain a good quality of life.”

Casey Call was born and raised on a fourth generation family owned vegetable and grain farm in New York State. After completing his degree in Ag Science at Cornell he moved across the country to become the agronomist for Grimmway Farms / Cal Organic in the central valley of California. Earning his MBA on nights and weekends, he eventually went to work at ag management software company, Granular which was later acquired by Dupont. At that time he moved on to become the Head Grower for Plenty, an indoor vertical farming company. 

All of these experiences led him to become the co-founder of Zordi, where he works alongside founder and CEO Gilwoo Lee to more fully automate fruit and vegetable production in greenhouses. As you’re about to hear, Zordi acquires varieties from around the world, such as Korean and Japanese Strawberries, to grow and manage them with a fleet of harvesting and scouting robots. Then they market and sell those premium varieties through grocery stores. 

This is a massive project that they’ve taken on, and they’ve made significant progress in a short time. I respect Casey’s perspective as one of the few people I know with firsthand growing experience on family farms, corporate farms, vertical farms, and greenhouse production systems. So it’s interesting to see the ways he’s combining this unique skill set.

About the Podcast

Show artwork for Future of Agriculture
Future of Agriculture
Future of Agriculture Podcast

Listen for free

About your host

Profile picture for Tim Hammerich

Tim Hammerich

I share stories about agriculture, agtech, and agribusiness on podcasts and radio.