Speakers

The 2020 Virtual Precision Agriculture Conference & Ag Technology Showcase was a great success!

See you in Red Deer November 16 to 17, 2021!
MITCH BROWNLIE
DIRECTOR
PRESENTATION TOPIC: The Need for Autonomous Farming & Ensuring Global Food Security
Mitch is the Director for FieldMicro Pty Ltd, an agricultural technology company, developing a range of products: allowing monitoring, automation & remote management of agricultural infrastructure.
Mitch feels very strongly about the welfare of the youth of  Australia and the future environment, and economy we will one day inherit.

He says the future world he would like to see is an affordable home for everyone, renewable energy in every house, a water tank in every yard, children in every family, a healthy lifestyle balanced between living and working.

He was Born in Rockhampton, Queensland, to Clive & Helen Brownlie. Mitch says he had three older brothers to toughen him up, as well as a younger brother and sister to teach him the benefits of a strong coalition.

Growing-up, Mitch worked on cotton properties in Theodore, Walgett & Millmerran. Attended boarding school at Concordia Lutheran College in Toowoomba. He served in the Australian Army as a rifleman, in the 25th/49th Battalion, Royal Queensland Regiment, where he says he experienced the true value of Aussie culture, mate-ship and teamwork.
He attended the University of Southern Queensland to study Business. Extending that education with first hand experience by founding, then expanding a chain of retail outlets across Queensland. Allowing him to see first hand, the issues faced by small & medium business owners.
John Hartnett
JOHN HARTNETT
CEO & FOUNDER
John Hartnett is the Founder and CEO of SVG Ventures a Silicon Valley investment, technology and advisory firm that works with Fortune 500 Corporations, investors and global start ups. He is also Founder of THRIVE, the leading agri-food innovation ecosystem, comprised of top agriculture, food & technology corporations, universities and investors. With a community of over 5,000 startups from 100 countries, the THRIVE platform invests, accelerates and creates unparalleled access for entrepreneurs to scale globally.
Hartnett is a 25-year veteran of the technology industry having been Executive Vice President of Palm the Smartphone pioneer. In his nine year term at Palm he held the position of Executive Vice President of Global Markets where Palm’s worldwide smartphone business grew to over $3.5 Billion in revenue. He played a lead role in the merger and integration of Palm and Handspring and prior to that he built the Global Operations and CRM organization at Handspring from start up through to its $3.5 Billion IPO. He has also held senior management positions at Metacreations, Claris/Apple, AT&T /Teradata and Digital Equipment Corporation.
John has served on both private and public boards such as Aer Lingus, Ireland’s national airline and was Executive Chairman of Daybreak Technologies that was recently acquired by Medidata. He is on the advisory board of the Limerick Institute of Technology, serves on the Expert committee of the Chinese National Innovation Zone and also serves on the board of various other technology start up companies.
He is founder and president of the Irish Technology Leadership Group (ITLG), a network of global Irish technology leaders who’s main focus is to foster the links between the USA and Ireland. He has served on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Northern Ireland Economic Working Committee and is currently Chairman of the Technology Advisory Council appointed by the Northern Ireland Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minster.
John is a graduate of the Marketing Institute of Ireland, holds a post graduate diploma in accounting and finance and has completed executive management programs at both Stanford & Harvard Universities.
RAJ KHOSLA
PROFESSOR OF PRECISION AGRICULTURE
 
Prof. Raj Khosla of Colorado State University is a globally recognized authority and a pioneer of Precision Agriculture. He has been engaged in precision agriculture since inception and has made significant contributions in the development and spread of Precision Agriculture worldwide. He is the Founder and Past-President of the International Society of Precision Agriculture.
Most recently, he served as the member of National Academy of Science Executive Committee on Science Breakthrough 2030. In 2017, his research was recognized with the “Werner L. Nelson Award for Diagnosis of Yield-Limiting Factors Award” by the American Society of Agronomy. Previously, he has been recognized as the “Precision Ag Educator of the Year 2015” by the US agricultural industry.
In 2012, Dr. Khosla was named the Jefferson Science Fellow by the National Academy of Sciences and was appointed as the Senior Science Advisor on Food Security to the U.S. Department of State. In 2011, he was inducted by NASA to the US “Presidential Advisory Board on Positioning, Navigation and Timing” to work on the US space based GPS policy.
Prof. Khosla is the Fellow of American Society of Agronomy; Fellow of Soil Science Society of America; Fellow of Soil and Water Conservation Society and Honorary Life Fellow of International Society of Precision Agriculture.
Dr. Khosla’s research specializes in harnessing spatial and temporal heterogeneity in managed agro-ecosystems and translating those into better decision models. His group has extensively used remote sensing and other geo-spatial tools to enhance production, resource use efficiency, profitability, and sustainability of managed agro-ecosystems. Their on-going precision nitrogen management work has demonstrated significant reductions in nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions on farm fields.
Most recently, his laboratory in collaboration with two other institutions are developing the next generation of soil-moisture and soil-nitrate sensors that are in-expensive, passive (battery-less), small, and bio-degradable. He has co-authored over 100 publications (book chapters, refereed journal articles, extension articles, proceedings, bulletins, reports, popular press articles, digital media, and others). He has been invited globally to over 30 countries.
Eric Laliberte
ERIC LALIBERTÉ
DIRECTOR GENERAL, SPACE UTILIZATION
 
Eric Laliberté is Director General, Space Utilization for the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). In this position, he is accountable for the overall planning, direction and general management of the Space Utilization Branch of the CSA, whose mandate is the end-to-end implementation of the Earth Observation, Satellite Communications and Space environment elements of the Canadian Space Program.
Mr. Laliberté joined the CSA in 2001 where he held various positions the most recent being Director of Space Exploration Projects and Director General of Space Science and Technology.
Eric holds a Masters in Engineering Management from the University of Sherbrooke and a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering with an automation specialty from McGill University. He served 12 years as an Aerospace Engineering Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force before joining the Canadian Space Agency. He was part of the Air Reserve for 10 years where he assumed the responsibilities of Quality Manager and of 438 Squadron’s Aircraft Maintenance Flight Commander.
Kelly Smith
KELLY SMITH
HEAD OF BIOPROCESSING
An experienced biotechnology innovator, Kelly Smith has held a variety of roles in agricultural biotechnology startups. She was a founder and CTO of Pasteuria Bioscience (acquired by Syngenta in 2012), and the principal inventor and developer of its proprietary fermentation manufacturing process. She has founded the fermentation and formulation teams, and lead early regulatory efforts for biological products, at two subsequent startups, AgBiome and Joyn Bio, and currently serves as the Head of BioProcessing at Joyn Bio.   She holds an MS and PhD in Environmental Engineering Science from the California Institute of Technology and a BS in Chemical Engineering from Michigan State University.
Alex Melnitchouck
ALEX MELNITCHOUCK
CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER
 Pre-Conference Precision Ag 101 & 201 Webinars
Alex Melnitchouck holds his Ph.D. in Agricultural Sciences, and second Master’s Degree in Soils and Environmental Sciences, backed up by 25 years of work experience at the international level, including precision Ag projects in Canada, USA, Germany, Switzerland, Brazil, Australia, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. He is a member of Alberta Institute of Agrologists (P.Ag.) and an author of more than 50 publications in scientific journals and proceedings of conferences.

Alex’s area of expertise encompasses various aspects of spatial data management and analysis in agriculture and environment including aerial and satellite imagery, soil and yield data, prescription and as-applied files. His main research interests and practical experience comprise analysis of spatial variability of growing conditions, environmental modeling, approaches to delineation of management zones and economic benefits of precision agriculture.

More information and registration for the pre-conference Precision Ag 101 & 201 webinars 

Kyle Daeley
KYLE DAELEY
HEAD OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT - NORTH AMERICA

Kyle is the Head of Business Development-North America for Augmenta, a Greek AgTech company founded by growers for growers. Augmenta produces cutting edge sensors and algorithms to make accurate on the fly variable rate fertilizer, plant growth regulator (PIX) and defoliate applications possible for every grower.

Kyle has been in AgTech for 10+ years, most notably leading business development and sales efforts for HydroBio (acquired by Climate Corp.) and Sentek (acquired by Galcon). Most recently co-leading a technology validation team at Indigo looking at all aspects of AgTech including but not limited too; drones, soil moisture probes, nutrient scanning sensors, and communication protocols. He has successfully launched multiple international companies into the North American market while also expanding North American based companies into Europe, South America, & Australia. 

His primary driver and goal is to see full transparency and compatibility between technologies. Grower’s can only use a technology to its full potential when it has a seamless integration with the necessary tools needed for implementation. As long as technologies keep a closed system and depend on the grower to import or export information in order to gain an actionable result the adoption curve will remain subpar and deter growers from truly adopting more precision ag practices. 

He holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Baylor University and a Bachelor’s in Communications & Media Studies from West Texas A&M University.
John Hartnett
ANASTASIA VOLKOVA
FOUNDER & CEO
Anastasia is an aeronautical engineer with a PhD in autonomous drone navigation, TEDx speaker and women in #STEM advocate. She has experience ranging from projects with the NASA robots onboard International Space Station to managing 370 person team for UEFA. Anastasia is a 2017 Amelia Earhart Fellow recognised for her commitment to advancing the application of aerospace engineering. Her passion for the real-world application has found expression in an agtech startup, FluroSat, which is closing the gap between the application of AI, science and sensing in precision agriculture. FluroSat in its 4 years has made an acquisition on another company, expanded internationally (used in 14 countries now) and attracted the industry’s top agribusinesses as customers. In Australia, Anastasia was named Women Creating Change by NSW/ACT (Australian Capital Territory and NSW) Young Achiever Award in 2018. In July 2019 Anastasia led FluroSat to raise an investment round from well-recognised investors including Microsoft, Costanoa Ventures and Space Capital, with the company becoming Microsofts first-ever AgTech investment globally. Most recently Anastasia became one of 35 MIT Technology Review Innovators under 35 globally.
Seth Crawford
SETH CRAWFORD
VP FUSE CONNECTED SERVICES & DIGITAL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE 
Seth Crawford is responsible for ensuring a unified digital customer experience throughout the customer journey including the integration and deployment of technology across AGCO’s portfolio of connected products. This includes Fuse, which acts as the company’s global hub for smart farming innovation, with a goal of delivering farm profitability improvement of 20% over the next five years by focusing on both yield improvements and cost reductions. Crawford also leads a global team responsible for future development and marketing of precision farming solutions, which includes implementing fleet and farm services.
Dr. Xin (Rex) Sun
DR. XIN (REX) SUN
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR AT THE DEPARMENT OF AGRICULTURE & BIOSYSTEMS ENGINEERING
Pre-Conference Webinars: Precision Ag 101 & 201
Dr. Xin (Rex) Sun is currently an Assistant Professor at the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABEN) of North Dakota State University. He got his Ph.D. from the Department of Agricultural Engineering of Nanjing Agricultural University with the major of Agricultural Mechanization Engineering. Dr. Sun’s research interest area focuses on artificial intelligence and robotic technologies in Precision Agriculture. Dr. Sun has investigated 25 research projects, including crop, livestock, and food production in the precision agriculture domain. Dr. Sun has collaborated with many academic and industry partners, including Harvard University, Iowa State University, Texas A&M University, Nanjing Agricultural University, Jiangsu University, USDA, National Pork Board, Hormel Food, and JBS.  Dr. Sun published 78 different academic articles, including 23 journal articles, 27 abstract and 2 book chapters, etc. 
Jeff Ivan
JEFF IVAN
CEO
Jeff Ivan is the CEO of Soilgenic Nutrients. Soilgenic is focused on sustainable and regenerative agricultural fertilizer technologies that includes the utilization of food and agricultural waste streams to produce bio-active and bio-available sustainable nutrients.  Soilgenic focuses on the soil’s microbiome and other carbon reduction technologies for low carbon agricultural systems.

Jeff Ivan has spent over 30 years in the agricultural field, most recently with AGI Fertilizer Systems working on international fertilizer projects in established and in developing agricultural regions.  Prior to AGI, Jeff worked with Tiger-Sul Products to promote the benefits of sulphur nutrition and to establish new international markets for sulphur and micronutrient fertilizers.  Jeff started his career in the retail fertilizer sector in Canada and originates from a family farm in Saskatchewan, Canada.   

Jeff has been involved in several committees such as the Fertilizer Canada’s, Agronomy and Environment Committee, and the 4R Solution (Africa) Steering Committee working in Ethiopia, Ghana and Senegal.  Jeff also worked with the Sulphur Institute’s Sulphur Advocacy committee based out of Washington, DC acting as the lead for the development of Sulphur based fertilizers in India.  Jeff’s is active with the International Fertilizer Association’s (IFA) African Forum for the development of fertilizer and food security in Africa.  He is currently advising several companies in Africa on sustainable fertilizer production and food security. 

Holly Gelech
HOLLY GELECH, BSc.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
Holly Gelech is a Seed Industry Professional with SGS Canada Inc. responsible for strategic planning, account management, marketing and client services for it’s accredited seed testing laboratories, located in Sherwood Park and Grande Prairie. She currently contributes to industry initiatives such as CSTA’s Diversity and Inclusion Working Group, CSTA’s International Committee, and Carson Park Community Garden in Strathcona County. Holly has cultivated broad knowledge in the seed value chain including alternative service delivery of seed crop inspections, execution of seed multiplication contract and coordinating processing of seed through Approved Conditioners. She is a Professional Agrologist (P.Ag.), registered through the Alberta Institute of Agrologists, and achieved her B.Sc. in Agriculture from the University of Alberta. For over 20 years, Holly Gelech has been engaged in the seed industry in the capacity of seed multiplication, quality assurance, distribution and more recently, launching new diagnostic services.
Brandon Yott
BRANDON YOTT
STRATEGY & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER 

Brandon has over 20 years experience within the Canadian Agriculture landscape as a product and business development champion with additional leadership expertise in marketing and precision Ag strategy development.  His previous tenure at Syngenta Crop Protection and the Agromart Group of retailers located in Eastern Canada has provided him with an excellent overview of the Canadian marketplace and the challenges and opportunities that agricultural advisors and producers face moving forward in our new digital economy.  Brandon now works with A&L Canada Laboratories as a Strategy and Business Development lead for Precision Ag technologies. 

Brandon holds a B. Sc of Agriculture from the University of Guelph with a major in Environmental Biology.

Krista Klompstra
KRISTA KLOMPSTRA
DIGITAL BUSINESS MANAGER
Krista Klompstra is the Digital Business Manager for Corteva, based in Southern Ontario, where she works alongside her Pioneer and retail sales colleagues. Krista's career has spanned many industries and areas. From a Senior Process Engineer at DuPont, to Marketing Manager for Eastern Canada with Pioneer, and most recently, as Global Program Manager with Competitive Capabilities International where she grew their digital process-improvement platform business with several global companies.
Wes Anderson
WES ANDERSON
SENIOR FERTILITY SPECIALIST 

Wes is the Senior Fertility Specialist with CropPro Consulting based out of Beaumont, AB. He currently works with farm clients to enhance their fertility program using SWAT MAP variable rate technology, as well as supports the rest of the CropPro staff and third-party agronomists around the world that are using SWAT MAPS. Wes grew up on a mixed farm near Theodore, SK and obtained his degree in Agriculture from U of S in 2001. Since then he’s worked in various agronomy roles in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and more recently in southern NSW, Australia. As a member of the Alberta institute of Agrologists, Wes is passionate about using technology in agriculture to improve the economic viability and environmental sustainability of farms. He has a wife and three kids that keep him busy in his spare time and graciously put up with his infatuation for agronomy.

Krik Wesley
KIRK WESLEY
AFS MARKETING MANAGER, OFF-BOARD 

Kirk Wesley is AFS Marketing Manager, Off-Board for North America.  In his current role, he supports the AFS Connect Portal and the digital connectivity it provides to today’s modern agricultural equipment (Telematics).  The AFS Marketing Manager not only works with machine data connectivity from equipment in the field to the AFS Connect Cloud but facilitates the connectivity (upon customer permission) of machine and agonomic data with companies our customers do business with throughout the world.

Global positioning systems were in their agricultural infancy when Wesley began consulting with agribusinesses and farmers about advances possible with the technology in 1984.  He has 30-plus years’ experience evaluating new precision systems and their ability to deliver value in the field, as well as at the farm management level.  

Wesley holds a degree in General Agriculture from Southern Illinois University, and has taught and consulted at the university level.  He was a certified crop consultant and certified professional agronomist  providing fertility, compaction and gis recommendations on midwestern farming operations for18 years.

Wesley lives in Milwaukee, WI, with his wife Mary and has 3 grown daughters.  “spending time with my family is important to me!  We look forward to family vacations and travel opportunities year round.  Landscaping and gardening along with home improvement projects keep me busy most weekends.”

Gill Costa
GILL COSTA
AGRONOMIST / BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
Gill Costa is a Business Development Manager with Sentek USA. After spending nearly, a decade working in seed production and hands on agronomy in Hawaii and Australia, he has skilled the paradigm of making actionable irrigation decisions from field data. Gill has experienced agriculture in multiple countries initially graduating with a BS in Agricultural Engineering in Brazil and further completing a Masters in Agribusiness from the University of Queensland. In addition to his extensive farming background experience, Gill is a trained Agronomist and Certified Crop Advisor.
Chuck Baresich
CHUCK BARESICH
GENERAL MANAGER

Chuck has a B. Comm Ag Business Degree from the University of Guelph. He and his brother Justin have farmed in the Bothwell area for the past 20 years, in a long-term no-till/zone system. Precision Agricultural and technology has always been important to their farming operation, from the basics of equipment to steering and planter controls. Chuck has been the General Manager of Haggerty Creek Ltd., since 2008, he was previously with Farm Credit Canada for 13 years, his last posting as the Development Manager for the Essex, Kent and Lambton County.

Brett House
BRETT HOUSE
VICE-PRESIDENT & DEPUTY CHIEF ECONOMIST

Brett House is Vice-President and Deputy Chief Economist at Scotiabank. Prior to joining Scotiabank in October 2016, Brett was Chief Economist at an alternative investment management start-up in Toronto and Global Strategist at Woodbine Capital Advisors, a New York-based global macro fund. Earlier in his career, Brett served as Principal Advisor in the Executive Office of the United Nations Secretary-General and as an Economist at the International Monetary Fund. He cut his teeth in financial markets at Goldman Sachs International in London and at the World Bank in Washington, DC. Brett is a Rhodes Scholar with degrees in economics from the University of Oxford and Queen’s University at Kingston. In addition, he has taught at Oxford University, McGill University, and the University of Cape Town, and has held research roles at Columbia University and Massey College at the University of Toronto. Brett sits on the investment committees of Pearson College and the Canadian Rhodes Scholars’ Foundation. He received the 2014 Québec Notable Award in Finance, the 2015 Good Citizen Award from his hometown of Lincoln, Ontario, and the 2018 Professional Leader Award from Start Proud. He was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum (Davos).

Colin Rush
COLIN RUSH
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

Colin Rush is a senior operations leader with nearly 20 years’ experience in the North American agricultural equipment industry. Colin has held senior positions with John Deere, Case IH and JCB Canada. In 2010 Colin assumed the role of Senior Director of Specialty Business, North America for Case IH. Case IH is one of the world’s largest agricultural equipment manufacturers with significant planting and seeding equipment market share in all major marketplaces. During his tenure Colin significantly increased North American sales and market share for the Company’s nearly $1B division of planting, seeding, tillage, and application products. Subsequent to Case IH, Colin became the head of Canadian operations for JCB, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of construction and agricultural equipment. During his time leading JCB Canada, Colin doubled the number of agricultural dealers to deliver significant sales growth while increasing sales margin. Colin holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanized Agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan and a Master of Business Administration in Agricultural Economics from the University of Guelph.

Bill Menkveld
BILL MENKVELD
VICE-PRESIDENT SALES & ADMINISTRATION

Following graduation from U of G, Bill worked in field research for several years, focusing on crops suitable for fuel ethanol production. Upon completion of the project, Bill entered the ag equipment world working with Grimme/Spudnik dealers and customers in Canada and USA to provide support and spare parts. During those years, Bill and his brother Bert formed Greentronics and took on two challenges. The first was to design and produce yield monitors for potato harvesters where crop moves on conveyors. The second was to come up with a sonar sensor based system that could automatically control the height of the harvesters’ unloading boom above the trucks. Both products enjoyed great success and further developments allowed Greentronics to produce in-line scale and sprayer boom height control systems for a much larger market. The business recently passed its 25th anniversary. Bill continues in his role as VP – Sales & Administration.

Barney Debnam
BARNEY DEBNAM
GLOBAL AGRICULTURE STRATEGY LEAD

Barney Debnam is the Global Agriculture Strategy Lead at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington. Barney has spent the past 25+ years building agtech startups and growing global agribusinesses.  Beyond experiences in the late 90’s agtech 1.0, Barney has contributed to digital solutions at GROWMARK/FS, Deere & Co and DuPont.  During his time at DuPont he worked with Sales, Marketing, Supply Chain, Research and IT.  Barney was Global CIO for DuPont Crop Protection and Pioneer Hi-Bred International just prior to the formation of Corteva AgriScience.
 

Barney graduated from Virginia Tech with a B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering then went on the study agricultural engineering at Texas A&M University.  Barney grew up in a 4-H farming family in Kent County Maryland, which his father and brother continue to operate today.
 

Why is Barney at Microsoft?  Few, if any, industries can match Agriculture when it comes to mission alignment with Microsoft, opportunity to apply innovation to the betterment of society and with the potential to empower agribusinesses to achieve more.
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Bakur Kvezereli
BAKUR KVEZERELI
FOUNDER & CEO

Bakur Kvezereli is a founder and CEO of Ztractor. The startup is his second silicon valley company, since graduating from MIT. Prior to entrepreneurship Bakur was Senior Investment Officer at $1.5 Billion Sovereign Wealth Fund, focusing on investments in Ag Tech. Between 2008-2011 he was the delegate to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). From both his agricultural and entrepreneurial background, Bakur is passionate about the future disruption that AI, computer vision, and electrification can bring to our world's food production, and the agricultural machinery that supports it.

Lina Yarysh
LINA YARYSH
SATELLITE SOLUTION CONSULTANT FOR AGRICULTURE & FORESTRY

Lina Yarysh has a proven track record in data analysis and software development. Now she brings her experience to agribusiness and forestry. In 2019 Lina has joined EOS Data Analytics R&D team to customize and develop brand-new solutions involving satellite imagery. Lina is engaged in solving day-to-day farm issues with tech, she enjoys the challenge that comes with every growing season.

 

Felix Weber
FELIX WEBER
TECHNICAL AGRICULTURE SPECIALIST
Will Rock
DR. WILL ROCK
SENIOR APPLICATIONS ENGINEER

Will Rock, Ph.D., Senior Applications Engineer at Headwall, enjoys collaborating with experts to solve challenging problems that lead to technological advances and scientific breakthroughs. He works in the lab and also in the field conducting feasibility studies for unique customer applications, providing technical advice to the Headwall sales team, delivering content-rich technical and educational presentations in person and online, and helping to develop solutions involving hyperspectral imaging for real-world problems that customers face.

Christian Felsheim
CHRISTIAN FELSHEIM
DIRECTOR OF HEADWALL EUROPE & BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

Christian Felsheim, Director of Headwall Europe and Business Development Manager, studied Neurobiology and Computer Science and has always sought to make advanced sensor systems available for new applications. As a Product and Sales Manager in close cooperation with researchers and users, he has been leading teams to implement imaging technology into medical diagnostics, life-science and machine vision applications.

 

Christoph Schimmer
CHRISTOPH SCHIMMER
SALES MANAGER REMOTE SENSING SYSTEMS

Christoph Schimmer, Dipl.-Geogr., Int. Sales Manager Remote Sensing Systems at geo-konzept, has longtime experience in geospatial solutions involving a wide array of mapping sensor technologies and analysis software, spectral imaging, LiDAR, photogrammetry, remote sensing, GIS and survey. He has a comprehensive understanding of the competitive market of mapping, civil engineering, environmental and land surveying. He is also a licensed commercial UAV pilot and has broad experience in all kinds of UAV flight missions.

Heather Deobald
HEATHER DEOBALD
GENERAL MANAGER

Heather Deobald is the General Manager at Quantum Genetix.  She completed her Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with a major in Agronomy and a Master of Science in Animal Genetics, both from the University of Saskatchewan.   Heather has a farming background and has worked as an agronomist and in agricultural sales before joining Quantum Genetix 15 years ago.   Heather is passionate about all aspects of farming and agriculture.  Heather’s enthusiasm has led her to focusing on bringing innovative and leading edge genetic products to the agriculture industry.

 

Kirsty McCormack
KIRSTY McCORMACK
TECHNICAL SALES MANAGER

Kirsty McCormack is the Technical Sales Manager at Quantum Genetix. After completing a B. Rural Science from the University of New England in Australia, Kirsty started work in the beef processing sector, working with organic and grain fed business to sell and market beef around the globe. Kirsty has travelled throughout South America, South East Asia and NZ to learn more about the beef industry, motivating her to move to Canada. Kirsty is a motivated young woman who is driven to continue promoting the agricultural industry to better aid producers in a growing global market.

Rob Saik
ROB SAIK
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

ROBERT SAIK has forty years of experience as a Professional Agrologist, entrepreneur and an international consultant who’s worked with a wide variety of agriculturalists from Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture to Bill Gates.
His latest book, “FOOD 5.0 How We Feed the Future” is a pragmatic look at the five iterations of agriculture, culminating in an examination of how technology convergence is reshaping the farm and the consumer.

 

Robert, an outspoken champion of agriculture, is a Distinguished Agrologist, Professional Agriculture Consultant, a serial entrepreneur and has been hailed as an agriculture futurist with unparalleled insight into where the industry is headed.
He has leveraged these strengths to found over 15 companies in the areas of Farming, Agri-Retail, Distribution, Media and Ag Tech including The Agri-Trend/Agri-Data Group of Companies which was acquired by Trimble. He served as CEO of DOT Technology Corp (Autonomous Farming) through the acquisition of Dot by Raven Industries.

 

He’s also the founder and CEO of AGvisorPRO, a platform that “uberizes” knowledge and wisdom, enabling farmers to instantaneously connect with agriculture experts worldwide.
Through Saik Management Group Inc he facilitates the PowerFARM peer group for progressive farmers.


His first book, “The Agriculture Manifesto – Ten Key Drivers That Will Shape Agriculture in the Next Decade” was a 2014 Best of Amazon Books and this TEDx Talk “Will Agriculture be Allowed to Feed 9 Billion People?” has been viewed over 150,000 times. Robert is a passionate keynote speaker and is executive producer of the Know Ideas Media a science based multi-media company addressing issues such as GMO’s and their use in food production.
 

He serves on several Boards, is an advisor to Olds College, is a member of the A100 (Alberta Tech Entrepreneur Network), a student of Strategic Coach and Singularity University and a member of Abundance 360. As a partner in Perigro Venture Partners he participates in early stage technology investments.
 

He been recognized for agriculture leadership by the Alberta Institute of Agrologists (Provincial Distinguished Agrologist of the Year) and in 2016 was awarded Canadian Agri-Marketer of the Year by the Canadian Agri-Marketing Association.

Clive Blacker
CLIVE BLACKER
HEAD OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Clive has been involved with Precision Agriculture for over 22 years and was one of the pioneers of precision farming technology in the country. After adopting Precision Farming and using the technologies on his home farm in 1998 he now provides, technologies, solutions and data insight to farmers and agribusiness wanting to get more from their soil, equipment, data and protect the environment. He continues to challenge the boundaries of technology to connect, inform and transform data to increase productivity and profitability of farmers globally.

After successfully growing the first crop in the world totally robotically (The Hands Free Hectare) with Precision Decisions, he continues to push innovation to benefit the industry.


He is A Director of Precision Decisions Ltd, and Business development manager for Map of Agriculture a leading company providing comprehensive precision farming and data services. Through his consulting services to the world’s largest agri-engineering companies and the UK Department of International Trade, Clive has gained extensive knowledge of the global precision agriculture market including China and Africa. In 2004 his Nuffield Farming Scholarship on Precision Agriculture took him through Europe, Australia and the U.S.A.

Austin Brown
AUSTIN BROWN
ANNIMAL SCIENCE STUDENT - UNITED STATES PRECISION AGRICULTURE SCHOLARSHIP WINNER
Will Smith
WILL SMITH
PhD STUDENT - UNITED KINGDOM PRECISION AGRICULTURE SCHOLARSHIP WINNER
Nicholar Bannon
NICHOLAS BANNON
BA. FOOD, AGRICULTURE & RESOURCE ECONOMICS STUDENT - CANADIAN PRECISION AGRICULTURE SCHOLARSHIP WINNER
Hadis Karimipour
DR. HADIS KARIMIPOUR
DIRECTOR OF THE SMART CYBER PHYSICAL SYSTEM LAB
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR - SCHOOL OF ENINGEERING

Dr. Hadis Karimipour is the director of the Smart Cyber-physical System (SCPS) Lab and an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering at the University of Guelph. She is among the pioneers of using Machine Learning (ML) for security analysis of critical infrastructures. Dr. Karimipour has published 1 book, 28 journal articles, 20 book chapters, and 30 conference articles in top IEEE journals and conferences. Her research interest includes IoT Security, critical infrastructure security, the security of smart framing systems, machine learning and deep learning.  Dr. Karimipour is a Senior Member of IEEE member, chair of IEEE Women in Engineering and chapter chair of the IEEE Information Theory Kitchener-Waterloo Section, and an active member of Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology.

Alex Fraess-Ehrfeld
ALEX FRAESS-EHRFELD
CEO & PROJECT LEAD

Alex has more than 25 years of experience in General Management (AIRBORNE ROBOTICS, AIR6 SYSTEMS, Atica Partners) and Investment Banking (Goldman Sachs, Deloitte & Touche). He studied Business Administration. Since 2015, Alex has been working with commercial drones in development & production as well as their integration in vertical industries and applications. He is a licensed drone pilot as well as examiner for UAS licenses in Germany and lectures on the topic of professional drone use at various events and worldwide webinars. He has been driving the application specific focus (eg. agriculture & forestry, logistics, etc.) of the company.

Joel Harris
JOEL HARRIS
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Joel is the Executive Director of Ag Startup Engine, an ideation and early stage seed fund and networking program for agtech startups. He is also the Business Development Manager for Vitalize Venture Group. Formerly he was the Director of Product at GlobalVetLINK and prior to that was VP of Harrisvaccines which was acquired by Merck Animal Health in November of 2015. Along with coordinating investor relations and mentoring at the Ag Startup Engine, he participates in several advisory and mentoring roles to entrepreneurs and startups in the SaaS, Agtech, Biotech, and Healthcare industries around the midwest. Joel holds a degree in economics from the University of Iowa and a professional certificate in public relations, marketing, and non-fiction writing from Northwestern University.

Joelle Foster
JOELLE FOSTER
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

Joelle is known as a spirited activist for entrepreneurship in Canada.  In February 2020, she became the CEO for North Forge Technology Exchange, a hybrid incubator/accelerator in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada that also runs the largest publicly accessible fabrication lab in North America.  In the past eight months, Joelle has developed a complete four-stage digital Founders Program to take tech-enabled and innovative companies from validation to becoming a Series A company; an advanced manufacturing program and a Women in Innovation Lab.  She has also begun developing an angel capital network in Manitoba. 

Before this, Joelle was in Calgary where she spent two years getting the University of Calgary's Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking off the ground as the inaugural Executive Director.  She spent eight years as a Director for Futurpreneur Canada, overseeing Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Nunavut and NWT.  Under her leadership, in Manitoba alone, 325 businesses opened their doors, achieving a 91% success rate over the seven years.  One of her biggest startups was Skip the Dishes. 

In recognition of her work, Joelle received the Volunteer of the Year from the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce in 2017 and received the Board of Directors Excellence Award - Business Community Partner from the Manitoba Filipino Business Council in November 2016. 

Joelle sits on the national board for the Canadian Council of Small Business and Entrepreneurship  (CCSBE) and is a National Board member for the Women Entrepreneurship Day Organization (WEDO).

John Mishler
JOHN MISHLER
TACTICAL MARKETING MANAGER - PRECISION AGRICULTURE

John Misher leads product marketing for the precision ag technologies residing on large ag machines such as displays, receivers, controllers, and software. This includes go to market planning and execution with respect to large ag production systems and production steps within those systems. John leverages practical experiences from production agriculture coupled with prior experiences with software sales, implementation, and support. Prior to his current role, John spent time in a tactical marketing role for precision ag On-Board Applications, and in field-based roles helping dealers sell and implement AgLogic in the ag retail sector.


John joined John Deere with Deere’s acquisition of AGRIS, an ag retail software company, in 1999. At AGRIS, he served as Product Manager, Implementation and Training Manager, and National Account Manager. Prior to his time with AGRIS, John spent time in the ag retail sector both as a controller for a commercial feed manufacturing company in the South-East United States and as a general manger for a farmer-owned cooperative in North-East Kansas.  John offices out of the Ag Marketing Center in Olathe Kansas.

Doug Dickman
DOUG DICKMAN
PROJECT MANAGER - PRECISION AG TECHNOLOGY
 

Doug currently works with John Deere’s Digital Specialists, dealers and customers helping drive understanding and awareness of John Deere’s Digital Tools.  This work includes creation and implementation of training materials to be used for dealer and customer events.  Doug’s previous work with JDLink, AgLogic, APEX, and John Deere Operations Center provide a well-rounded background with John Deere Precision Ag Technologies.  Doug has been with John Deere for nearly 15 years and held various roles within engineering, software testing, system integration and marketing.


Doug started his career and passion for technology and customers after graduating from college and working for an independent ag service provider in Illinois as their Precision Ag Manager. This proved an exciting time as customers began installing the first-generation yield monitors and variable rate seed controllers.  After leaving the ag retailer business, Doug spent 9 years working at CNH Global in various product and project management roles as well as Research Agronomist for their tillage equipment line. Doug celebrates 27 years as a Certified Crop Advisor this coming February. Doug offices out of his home in Wisconsin.

Craig Rupp
CRAIG RUPP
FOUNDER / CEO

Craig has over 30 years of engineering and entrepreneurial experience. Craig started his career in 1988 as a hardware engineer at Motorola, designing and developing the first GSM and Iridium mobile stations.

Craig then joined John Deere in 2002, designing and developing their Starfire GPS receiver and Greenstar display.

In 2002, Craig founded Alliance Technologies Group (ATG) and focused on providing state-of-the-art RF measurement and generation software for high-volume manufacturing. Acquired by National Instruments in 2005, he became a Chief Measurement Architect, developing AM, FM, RDS, Bluetooth, GSM, EDGE, CDMA2k, EVDO, WCDMA, TDSCDMA, and LTE solutions.

In 2012, Craig founded 640 Labs, envisioning agriculture adopting an off-the-self iPad as a data collection and monitoring device. He was the person behind the creation of the 640 Drive. Acquired by Monsanto in 2014, he made his FieldView Drive one of the fastest, widely adopted devices in agriculture.

In 2018, Craig founded Sabanto, a Farming-as-a-Service company that performs field operations using autonomous equipment. He was the first to autonomously plant a farmer’s field in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Illinois, and Indiana.

Raised on a farm in Iowa, he earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Iowa State University in 1988 and subsequently earned his master’s degree from Illinois Institute of Technology in 1990. He currently has 14 patents.

Dmitry Dementiev
DMITRY DEMENTIEV
CO-FOUNDER

Dmitry Dementiev is a co-founder of GeoPard - a powerhouse for precisionAg data with business intelligence capabilities. Priorly to GeoPard Dmitry was a co-founder of Zoner.ag - precision ag solution acquired by Bayer in 2015. Later in Bayer Dmitry was one of the first technical managers at Xarvio Digital Farming solutions. The current focus of Dmitry's work is about the development and integration of novel analytics tools into GeoPard and partners' applications along with the business development of the platform.

Ian McDonald
IAN MCDONALD
APPLIED RESEARCH COODINATOR FOR THE FIELD CROPS

Ian McDonald has been the Applied Research Coordinator for the Field Crops Unit of OMAFRA since 2000 before which he spent 15 years in ag industry as a researcher on new pesticides with Hoechst and Dupont. Since July of 2016 he has been assigned the role of Crop Innovation Specialist with the unit. Ian holds a PhD. In Ag Environmental Science from the University of Guelph.

He is involved in the coordination of research and demonstration activities within the OMAFRA Agriculture Development Branch (ADB) Field Crops unit and is involved in scientific review, protocol and project development, data analysis, and reporting among other functions within ADB. He works with colleagues and partner organizations to find technology tools to enhance producer and advisor knowledge and access to information through research projects, collaborations with academic and farmer partners, online resources and other outreach opportunities. He is co-chair of the FarmSmart franchise of events.

He has a special interest in sustainable agriculture production systems and having the farm sector meet more of societies needs and expectations.

Maurizio Agostino
MAURIZIO "MOE" AGOSTINO
CHIEF COMMODITY STRATEGIST

Moe is the Chief Managing Commodity Strategist for Risk Management. Moe has over 30 years of experience in trading markets, commodity risk management and marketing, and has been working with Farms.com Risk Management for more than 10 years. His primary areas of expertise include the grain, basis, livestock, feed, energy/diesel and input marketing and purchases. Moe uses email and text marketing programs to assist clients, both retail and corporate, in protecting themselves from the excesses and volatility in commodity price swings. Farms.com Risk Marketing provides hands-on marketing advice and consulting to thousands of farmers across North America with a value in excess of over $1 billion. Farms.com has their own skin in the game with a 2000 acres cash crop farm  in Port Dover, Ontario.

jONATHAN AGUILAR
JONATHAN AGUILAR
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR

Dr. Jonathan Aguilar is an Associate Professor with K-State Research and Extension (KSRE) based in the Southwest area office in Garden City, KS.  He earned both his bachelor's and master's degrees in agricultural engineering, with focus on land and water resources from the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB). He worked at UPLB as University Researcher and handled several water resource related projects with UPLB Foundation, Department of Agriculture and the UN FAO. He then came to K-State where he received his doctorate in 2009. His dissertation focused on the changes of ecologically relevant flow parameters in Kansas’ streams. Aguilar then worked as a USDA ARS postdoc in Sidney, Montana and at Mandan, North Dakota. His researches include remote sensing of crop residue and spatiotemporal analysis of US crop diversity. In 2012, he joined KSRE as an extension water resource engineer.  Aguilar’s current research is focused on water resource issues as they pertain to the irrigated agriculture in western Kansas, in particular, technology adoption, improved irrigation management and crop water response studies.

Kenneth Irons
KENNETH IRONS
CHAIRMAN

Kenneth Irons is Chairman of Agritech New Zealand, leading the elected Executive Council who work in the interests of the association’s members.  New Zealand is known globally for its agricultural prowess, having twice as many cows and six times as many sheep as there are people.  Fonterra is the world’s largest dairy exporter, and one of the major corporate members of AgritechNZ, along with global corporations including Microsoft and AWS, major banks with strong portfolios in the ag sector, plus a wide range of large, medium sized and smaller, new companies. Ag research organisations, universities and farming sector bodies are also members.

The New Zealand government has recently released its fully funded Agritech Industry Transformation Plan, the first such industry plan by the NZ government, as a major plank in the country’s economic recovery following the pandemic-induced reduction in international tourism previously contributing 5.8% of GDP and 20% of exports, making it pre-COVID on a par with dairy exports.

Kenneth’s commercial interests are as managing director and owner of Precision Farming International Ltd, which provides farmers and agriculture contractors with an advanced, GIS-based farm management information system that aggregates sensor-originated data to enable farmers and their contractors to more profitably run their inter-dependent businesses.

Having lived in four countries and worked across five major industries in his career, spanning medical, media, airline, corporate banking sectors and now the ag industry, he brings a unusual, sometimes contrarian perspective to “how things are done in farming” that informs his contributions to Agriculture 4.0.

Tom Jenkins
TOM JENKINS
DEPUTY CHALLENGE DIRECTORY - TRANSFORMING FOOD PRODUCTION

Tom is Deputy Challenge Director for the £90m Transforming Food Production programme that is supported through wave 2 of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.  The programme integrates UK world-leading capabilities in digital technologies, engineering, artificial intelligence, biological and environmental sciences into precision approaches and data driven solutions that will increase agricultural productivity whilst supporting the transition to a net zero farming sector by 2040.

Tom joined Innovate UK in March 2013, and led the successful delivery of the £70m Agri-Tech Catalyst, working with a wide range of stakeholders from industry, growers and levy bodies, Government Departments, Research Councils and the science base. He also delivered successful competitions under the £90m Sustainable Agri-Food Innovation Platform with projects focusing on trait measurement technologies, engineering solutions, and crop and livestock disease challenges. 
Tom has led international strategy development within the Agri-Food team at Innovate UK, where activities have included successful ‘Expert’ and ‘Global Business Innovation Programme’ missions to Canada in March 2017 and June 2018.  This work supported publication of a UK-Canada Agri-Food Roadmap that describes R&D priority areas over the short- medium- and long-term timeframes.
Tom was previously Assistant Director at Biosciences KTN Ltd and Head of the Plant & Crop Sector, leading a team to support commercialisation of new technology relevant to food and non-food markets.  He managed two Special Interest Groups on behalf of the Technology Strategy Board, in Algal Bioenergy and Synthetic Biology.  He was a key player in establishing a £6m UK initiative in biorefining technologies (BBSRC IBTI Club) and is currently Chair of the BBSRC-funded Algae-UK Management Board, focusing on Synthetic Biology to develop high-value products from algae.

A biochemist by training, he went on to obtain a PhD in Plant Molecular Genetics which was followed by post-doctoral research positions at leading research institutions in France, Denmark and the UK which provides a technical knowledge of applied bioscience research relevant to agriculture and the bioeconomy.

Clinton Monchuk
CLINTON MONCHUK
FARMER
MONCHUK FAMILY FARM

Clinton Monchuk grew up on a mixed dairy, beef and grain family farm outside of Lanigan, Saskatchewan.  He received his Bachelors of Science in Agriculture majoring in Agricultural Economics from the University of Saskatchewan and Masters of Business Administration in Agriculture from the University of Guelph.  Clinton has enjoyed numerous roles across North America as a researcher, educator, manager, economist and director of trade policy.
 

In late 2016 Clinton accepted the role of Executive Director with Farm & Food Care Saskatchewan to promote farming and ranching to consumers.  Clinton understands the value of increasing public trust in agriculture and actively promotes engagement between the agriculture industry and consumers. 
 

Clinton, Laura and their children Jackson and Katelyn, continue to be active partners on their family grain and layer farm in Saskatchewan and cattle ranch in Oklahoma.

Justin Hiebert
JUSTIN HEIBERT
FARMER
HIEBERT FARMS LTD.

A third generation farmer from the base of Long Point, ON. Mainly farming corn and soybeans with some wheat and asparagus. I'm the default IT/Precision Tech guy on our farm because I'm the least bad at it.