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From dendrometers to drones, devices drive ag-tech boom

University of California-Davis doctoral candidate Zhehan Tang prepares to launch a drone to demonstrate the use of aerial imagery in agriculture.
Agriculture across the country is going high-tech, and California is leading the way as the tree nut and other industries are looking for ways to save water.

Agriculture across the country is going high-tech, as the ag and food sectors invested $10.1 billion in digital technologies in 2017, according to a University of California study. That's up from $3.2 billion in 2016, reports the UC's Giannini Foundation for Agricultural Economics.

In California, which was the leading state last year with $2.2 billion spent to adopt new technologies in ag and food production, UC Cooperative Extension researchers are researching or developing lots of new, innovative ideas. And growers are putting them to work in their fields and orchards.

Many of the devices are geared toward helping growers save water, as frequent droughts and increasing demands on water have led to persistent shortages in recent years. Recently, UC advisors and others gathered with growers in an orchard near Red Bluff, Calif., to show them the latest advances in irrigation efficiency.

But the technology also helps growers save labor and become more efficient with their time, as one farm manager recently demonstrated for the Western Farm Press.

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