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    Joining Lumo: On the Precipice of an Agtech Revolution

    Director of CS, Josh Zoland
    by Josh Zoland

    Five years ago, if you had told me that I’d be working in agricultural irrigation, I would’ve laughed. I’d been working my way through the wine industry, from retail stores to public relations and marketing, and I loved it. But as I began to work with more winery clients who were focused on sustainable farming practices, I found myself longing to participate in their stories, rather than pitching them to journalists from behind a desk.

    So, I gave up my apartment in New York City and headed west to Sonoma County to work a wine harvest. While cellar work was fun, I was really drawn to the vineyard. Walking the vines every morning among the dense fog rolling off the Pacific Ocean, I gained something that had been missing in city life: a deeper connection to the Earth and its many cycles, rhythms, and patterns.

    This newfound passion led me to a job managing vineyard technology for one of California’s most respected viticulturists, installing weather sensors and irrigation automation systems. But rather than technology integrating seamlessly into the lives of growers, what I often found was tension and frustration.

    Many growers wanted data to make informed decisions. And they wanted to implement their decisions using reliable technology. Yet there was this disconnect between what growers wanted and what agtech companies were providing. Especially where irrigation automation was concerned.

    Existing irrigation solutions were ambitious, but they missed the mark on what matters most: accountability. How do you know if your crops actually received the amount of water you intended to deliver? You could cobble together a bunch of sensors and valves and run them all off of a controller, but that lacks cohesion and creates multiple failure points. Not to mention antiquated, complex software and high hardware and maintenance costs.

    Vineyard irrigation automation had existed for decades, yet it wasn’t widespread in California, even with its reputation as a global technology hub. Hardware costs were prohibitive for many growers, and those who could afford to automate their irrigation systems were often burned when the technology didn’t work properly after installation and the agtech companies didn’t provide white glove support to maintain them.

    That was the state of the industry when I first met Devon Wright, Lumo’s founder and CEO. He initially approached us asking for an internship so that he could learn more about vineyard technology and existing irrigation systems. Here was a guy who had successfully built and sold a technology company to Yelp, rolling up his sleeves and spending hours in the summer sun for an hourly wage. I knew right then that Devon was the real deal. 

    As I got to know him better, I learned that he was setting out to build a better irrigation automation solution, and that he was starting, quite literally, from the ground up. I watched him spend countless hours speaking to growers and working with irrigators. And by the time he finished his internship, it became clear to me that the vision he was describing for Lumo matched the gap I saw in the market for irrigation technology perfectly.

    I joined Lumo because we’re at the precipice of a major shift in technology use on farms. It’s going to happen over the next ten years, because it has to. To meet the challenges of today, we need technological innovation in agriculture. We need agtech providers who are responsive to the needs of farmers and understand the urgency of this moment.

    I moved to California during one of the state’s many droughts. I knew freshwater availability was a major problem around the world. But it didn’t hit home until, well, California became my home, and I witnessed my friends and colleagues running out of water for their homes and crops. 

    The impacts of climate change are already here. Water scarcity is just one of them, and the situation is dire. 

    70 percent of the world’s freshwater is used for agricultural irrigation. With a global deficit of freshwater, we must find a way to help farmers grow crops at the same or greater quality and yields, while simultaneously reducing their water use and navigating labor shortages in the field.

    Lumo is the future of irrigation management because it helps growers meet these challenges head on. It’s simple to install, intuitive to use, and combines real-time irrigation data with irrigation control, so that growers can irrigate with precision and little waste. We don’t sell valves and fancy controllers. We sell a whole package that delivers reliability and accountability.

    That package includes our white glove support team, fully staffed with technicians who’ve cut their teeth in viticulture and bring more than technology expertise to the vineyard. We know that technology breaks. It’s inevitable, especially in the great outdoors. So we prepare to rapidly respond, and we practice preventive maintenance to avoid breakage in the first place. I’m proud to be working with a team of professionals who put our clients first, from our CEO to our software engineers. 

    I joined Lumo because we all have a role to play in ensuring that our farmers and our planet thrive in an ever-changing world. Lumo is one of the companies leading the way at this critical moment. And we’re just getting started.

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