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  • Writer's pictureJose Cobos

Building a Sustainable Future through Collaborative Efforts in Water, Energy, and Ag Tech

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

Cross-sector Collaboration: A Path to Sustainability

In pursuing global sustainability, collaboration between diverse sectors is imperative. When it comes to addressing the multifaceted challenges in agricultural technology and water and energy management, synergy among government bodies, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and industry leaders is the catalyst for progress. This blog post delves into a conversation with Jose Cobos, a key player at the Water, Energy, and Technology Center who is forging partnerships across California's Central Valley. We will also explore how businesses can benefit from our innovative testing and plot demonstration program, shedding light on the exciting developments happening at our center.

Photo of Jose Cobos with Community Engagement and Outreach Specialist Samuel Fairbanks

A Legacy of Excellence in Agricultural Testing

California State University, Fresno, has long been respected for its agricultural laboratory and field testing, and renowned for its ability to propel technologies from the lab's confines to the global market. Many companies have placed their trust, and rightly so, in the Center for Irrigation Technology and its distinguished staff and faculty, who have consistently delivered robust testing results for cutting-edge technologies. The recognition that follows successful testing at Fresno State often paves the way for enhanced sales opportunities for these companies.

However, what happens when a company is in the bootstrap phase and cannot bear the financial burden of independent, third-party testing? Or, what if a company has already undergone initial testing and now requires in-field demonstrations to increase exposure and attract potential buyers?

The Genesis of TEST: Technology Evaluation, Support, and Testing

These questions were at the forefront of my mind when I conceptualized our new program: Technology Evaluation, Support, and Testing (TEST). Situated in the agriculturally rich Central Valley of California, our region plays a pivotal role in producing a wide variety of crops vital to the state and the nation. Here is how we are expanding our testing resources to foster the growth of business ventures:

Embracing Local Colleges: Central Valley community colleges are abundant, presenting opportunities to extend our resources to include these institutions. Our program benefits startups seeking to demonstrate their technology and serves as an educational boon for students. Local colleges, including Fresno State, place a premium on hands-on learning experiences in agricultural education. Moreover, this expansion broadens the scope of crops we can test, as each community college offers unique crops and soils with their specific challenges. Furthermore, the technological advancements we facilitate often translate into increased profits during harvest season—a significant win-win scenario.

Diversification of Resources: Community colleges boast more than just agricultural resources; they encompass solar fields, wineries, and dairies, further enhancing our testing capabilities. The possibilities are indeed boundless.

Customized Solutions: We've initiated campus tours to ensure the best fit between startup companies and college resources. These tours not only enable founders to understand the specific needs of each college but also facilitate meetings and discussions with farm managers, faculty, and directors—a crucial step towards effective collaboration.

Photo by Jose Cobos: Tour of Campus Farm

Celebrating Success Stories

The TEST program has already borne fruit, with several success stories emerging. As we refine our processes and expand our network of locations, we anticipate witnessing a surge in successful collaborations. Some recent examples include:

Nurture Growth Biofertilizer, an alumnus of Valley Ventures, collaborated with Reedley College faculty to construct a scope of work for a student-led demonstration. They agreed to use five acres of Selma Pete grapes for their experiment. A student assisted in applying the fertilizer, mixed with pesticides, and measured the grapes and cluster sizes throughout the season. The end goal was to compare the controlled and uncontrolled acres' performance. The student researcher also contributed to the harvest and collected data on weight differences.

At the West Hills-Coalinga Farm, the farm director permitted Regenerative Living to utilize an acre of land for demonstrations. Simultaneously, the farm manager sought solutions for energy storage attached to their five-acre solar field. Relyion Energy, another esteemed Valley Ventures alumni, specializes in recycling batteries for second energy storage use. They are collaborating with West Hills to create an energy storage system that will save the community college money and enable them to expand their EV and tractor charging abilities.

A Heartfelt Thank You

I would like to express my sincere gratitude for the warm reception and cooperation we have received from the community colleges in our region. Their willingness to engage and collaborate has made this endeavor remarkably smooth. With three community colleges now actively involved in the TEST program at the Water, Energy, and Technology Center, we are better equipped than ever to support aspiring startups. If you know of other colleges, universities, or farmers interested in participating in this program or are interested in touring, please do not hesitate to contact us at or

In a community deeply rooted in agriculture, it is our collective responsibility to seize every opportunity to forge a sustainable future while nurturing success among our community members, farms, farmers, and innovators. The Central Valley's future shines brightly indeed!


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