In this episode, I talk with Eric Adamson, CEO of Tortuga AgTech, about smarter farming. Tortuga AgTech builds robots for harvesting fruit and vegetables to help farms be more resilient, sustainable, and successful.


“Figuring out that pipeline from someone else’s knowledge to the robot knows it is really critical.”

“If you build technology because the technology is cool or because you can, you are much more likely to fail than if you start with the customer problem and then figure out what kind of technology might help to solve that problem.”

“That learning happens with our machine learning engineers being in the field, being the ones who are actually taking data with handheld rigs.”

“Many of our team members’ first two weeks have been immediately flying to a farm and spending time on the farm with the robots, learning a problem in very, very deep detail. And I would encourage anybody building a technology based on machine learning or certainly robots to do the same.”

“We have a very efficient and effective pipeline that took us years to build. But it’s exceptionally powerful for us to be able to, for example, go to a new site, run a couple robots or a small fleet of robots for a day, and then within a week have a brand new model that’s been completely retrained on freshly labeled data from this new place.”

“That’s very critical for us because farm environments are changing so often. You really need to be able to be reactive and continue to improve your models as you develop.”

“We measure our scores based on golden data sets that we’ve sort of hand labeled ourselves. But we also have to make some judgment calls about what we really want in our performance versus what the conditions are in the field and what we’re seeing on the farm.”

“We try to convert whatever model results are spit out into language that the customer intuitively understands.”

“It’s really important to start with the customer problem and to start with the customer problem as an economic proposition.”

“There are already very large discussions happening in the farming community around what type of farming should be used in order to, for example, deal with climate change, to deal with drought, to deal with chemical regulations, to deal with a lowering of fruit quality and an increasing of fruit waste, the challenging labor environments.”