Getting Smart About Agriculture

Nine months ago, I joined Terraqualo, a new startup aimed at helping growers of specialty crops make best irrigation decisions, using a cost-effective wireless network of sensors and actuators. In this new weekly column on “Sustainable Agriculture on Cleantech Blog”, I will share some of the lessons I have learned, and invite you to contribute as well in the form of comments. 

Whether you are an investor looking to invest in an agriculture technology startup, or an engineer with a high-tech idea for agriculture, eventually, you are going to need to do your homework, and understand the business of agriculture. As I have discovered, getting into the field of agriculture high-tech  requires the ability to grasp multiple disciplines, and a good dose of humility. Before you go out and talk to the experts, UC Davis professors, farm advisors, commodity groups, and growers, I suggest you get smart very quickly, using the vast knowledge available online. Here are some of my favorite sources,
USDA websites:
  • NASS (National Agricultural Statistics Service)
  • ARS (Agricultural Research Service)
  • NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service)
  • ERS (Economic Research Service)
  • Census
UC  ANR (Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources) 
Scientific papers:
Farmers’ publications:
Happy research!
Marguerite Manteau-Rao is VP Marketing for Terraqualo, a new venture in precision irrigation for growers of specialty crops. Marguerite is the creator of  La Marguerite, a popular environmental blog, and has written extensively for a number of other blogs, including Huffington Post Green. She has a multidisciplinary background as an engineer, marketer, and  social worker. You can follow her on Twitter .
3 replies
  1. Cynthia at Pacific Ethnographic Research Center
    Cynthia at Pacific Ethnographic Research Center says:

    Thanks for the pointers to information Marguerite. As I make my way into the world of agriculture here in Washington State I'm reminded of the first time I traveled to Tokyo; I anticipated the third world and ended up thinking that I was visiting from the third world. Farming is not "the simple life" and farmers deal with an incredible number of moving parts and chaotic circumstances; there is certainly an abundance of intellect and forward thinking among agriculturalists.

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