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AI Enters Vineland Farming Industry

Zordi, a startup agricultural platform that blends AI and robotics with greenhouse growing, opened a location in Vineland recently. Zordi, backed by Khosla Ventures, leverages robotics, AI, and conventional farming wisdom to grow strawberries in greenhouses in the Northeast.

Under human supervision, robots do everything from plant to harvest a unique variety of strawberries imported from Japan and Korea. The company uses AI and machine learning to monitor the growing process and control the environment inside the greenhouses. They also use robots to harvest the ripe fruit.

Gilwoo Lee, a robotics expert, and Casey Call, a farmer, founded Zordi in 2020. A graduate of the University of Washington, Lee wanted to start something where her robotics and AI could be impactful.

Call, who is the head grower and an agronomist at Zordi, says he’d seen the impact of sustainability on his family’s 12,000 acres of farmland in western New York, where they grow peas, beans, corn, carrots, soy, and potatoes.

Lee says that quality strawberries are complicated to grow, so the market is relatively lucrative. She also said that she chose strawberries because they require particular growing climates and because they’re delicate when they’re harvested.

“If we’re able to do this and actually get them successfully delivered to the stores, then we’re pretty confident that you can extend the harvesting tools to other crops,” Lee said. “I think controlled environment agriculture or greenhouses, for us, is a very good way to feed the world with sustainably grown local fresh produce, and that was the mission that I wanted to see happen.”

The sustainable agriculture industry is brimming with advanced technology, thanks to the need to understand vast amounts of information about everything from the microclimate to the soil pH.“

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