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Pioneering Progress: A Journey from a Grower Shipper, to AI and Robotics with Ryan Mazzuca

Pioneering Progress: A Journey from a Grower Shipper, to AI and Robotics with Ryan Mazzuca

In the ever-evolving landscape of agriculture, Stout Industrial Technology stands as a beacon of innovation and progress. As the Director of Business Development at Stout, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the company’s growth from its inception, driven by a commitment to addressing the pressing challenges faced by growers worldwide. Join me on a journey through Stout’s origins, its impactful solutions, and the exciting future that lies ahead.

From the outset, Stout was founded with a clear purpose: to revolutionize the agriculture industry through the power of technology. Drawing upon my background in AI, robotics, and role at Tanimura & Antle, we embarked on a mission to bring real-world solutions to the forefront, focusing on the intersection of grower-focused technology and customer-centric processes. By bridging the gap between technology and agriculture, we’ve been able to grow our sales pipeline and forge strategic partnerships that propel us forward.

Stout originated from a strategic investment by Tanimura & Antle, driven by the need to address labor shortages while maintaining the integrity of the agricultural workforce. Recognizing the inevitability of automation in agriculture, they aimed to develop reliable solutions that would alleviate labor pressures without compromising quality or efficiency. Stout began as a “special project” at Tanimura & Antle, fueled by the engineering brilliance of employees like Jeff Antle and a deep-seated commitment to serving the needs of growers.

However, by focusing on our core technology and understanding the unique needs of commodity growers, we established ourselves as leaders in categories such as weeding and cultivating. Our partnerships with industry giants like Grimmway and Tanimura & Anlte, along with collaborations with Case New Holland (CNH) for global distribution, have further cemented Stout’s impact in the agriculture industry.

Looking ahead, Stout remains steadfast in its commitment to data-driven solutions that empower growers to make informed decisions. Our vision for the future is one where innovation and sustainability go hand in hand, transforming the way we cultivate crops and steward the land with our Smart Rate Fertilizer.

Reflecting on my journey with Stout, I am proud of the team we’ve built and the impact we’ve made in the agriculture industry. From humble beginnings to industry leadership, Stout embodies the spirit of collaboration, innovation, and dedication to making a difference. As we embark on the next phase of our journey, I am excited to see what the future holds and confident that Stout will continue to pioneer progress in agriculture, one innovative solution at a time.

 

 

 

About Ryan Mazzuca: Ryan earned his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Business and Management from California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo in 2010, laying the academic foundation for his career. Embarking on his professional journey in agriculture, he advanced through various roles, showcasing leadership and expertise in sales, marketing, and agricultural production. Transitioning to the tech sector, Ryan joined Apple, where he combined technical support with community outreach, before leveraging his agricultural background to contribute to Iron Ox’s revolution in sustainable farming. Currently, as the Director of Business Development at Stout Industrial Technology, Inc., Ryan continues to drive business growth and foster strategic partnerships, seamlessly blending his agricultural expertise with technological innovation.

 

About Tanimura & Antle: Founded in 1982, Tanimura & Antle is an employee-owned family farming business with a four generation legacy and a passionate commitment to growing premium quality produce. Built on a partnership between two families, with a shared commitment to always value employees as its greatest asset, the founding families now share ownership with all employees — from farming and harvest crews to management — through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP). As one of the largest independent vegetable growers in the United States, Tanimura & Antle farms more than 36,000 acres of rich, fertile farmland and ships a full line of premium fresh conventional and organic produce products throughout North America, Europe and Asia.

 

About Stout Industrial Technology: A Salinas, CA based artificial intelligence Company focusing on labor-intensive applications in agriculture. The Company builds software-defined implements for tractors that use machine vision and AI to identify and remove weeds via mechanical actuation instead of chemicals. Born inside a grower-shipper operation, Stout’s hardware and software solutions are developed from the grower’s perspective, hardened in the field prior to commercialization and continuously improved to help growers lower their operating costs and increase their margins.

Innovative Smart Cultivator Knows Weeds From Crops

Innovative Smart Cultivator Knows Weeds From Crops

Not too long ago, the idea of a machine cultivator that could tell the difference between the weeds and the crop would have seemed impossible. However, now it’s not only possible — it’s available. An innovative new automated machine developed by Stout Industrial Technology, the Smart Cultivator, can now eliminate weeds and cultivate ground in a single pass – with just one tractor and driver. With the critical labor shortages in the agriculture industry, it comes not a moment too soon.

The Smart Cultivator uses a cutting-edge artificial intelligence vision system, called Stout True Vision, to differentiate between the crop and weeds. A significant benefit Stout True Vision has over traditional machine vision is it automatically adjusts for lighting conditions, soil color, and plant sizes. To train it to recognize a crop — romaine lettuce, broccoli or iceberg, for example, thousands of images were labeled and uploaded so the machine could “learn” dozens of characteristics such as the color, leaf edges and shape and crown structure. Armed with that knowledge in the field, Smart Cultivator looks specifically for the commodity being grown and knows anything else should not be there.

Smart-Cultivator-1

The blades open and close around the plants and remove any weeds sur-rounding them as it moves down the rows. The cultivating and weeding blades, along with the row width and height, are all easily adjustable. The Smart Cultivator processes fields at one to two acres per hour.

“With the ability to reduce both labor needs and chemical inputs at the same time, early adopters of the Smart Cultivator have found that there is an immediate financial benefit,” says Steven Snyder, Chief Technologist at Stout Industrial Technology. “It’s a great fit for both organic and conventional growers.”

 

A Machine That Keeps Learning

Currently, Smart Cultivator has the ability to work in fields of leafy greens such as romaine, iceberg and red-leaf lettuce, and brassicas. New crops are continually being added, Snyder says. Tomatoes and melons are coming soon.

“If a grower contacts us about a specific crop, we have a system in place that allows us to very quickly get the images we need to train our system to work on a new commodity,” he says.

 

Rugged Construction Designed for Field Conditions

The Smart Cultivator has cutting-edge technology, but it is designed with the user in mind. It has a user-friendly, touch-screen interface, precision seed line tracking for tight machine-to-plant spacing, automatic blade depth control and more. The Smart Cultivator requires only a 1,000 RPM PTO and three-point hitch, with no electrical or hydraulic connection to the tractor needed.
It is also designed with field conditions in mind, Snyder says. The Smart Cultivator works on any soil type and has automatic bed pressure and height control systems, which adapt to different soils – even rocky ones.

“We wanted something that would be easy to use and extremely durable, because we know it’s really hard for businesses to integrate new technologies into their operations,” Snyder says. “It’s made of heavy steel, with shock absorbers, and all the electronics and wiring are completely sealed and waterproof. You can pressure wash it; it doesn’t need special handling. Growers who are already using it say it’s reliable, it works, and it’s easy to use,” Snyder says.