Innovation & Perspiration

Thomas Edison may have put it best when he said that “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

For the Florida citrus industry, the struggle with greening has been a season of perspiration. Although we have seen some research advancements, it seems like these developments are not coming fast enough. We are simply not gaining back enough ground with new plantings to offset the losses due to HLB — much less rebuild.

This widening deficit positions the entire citrus industry in a potentially dangerous race against time. When researchers and leaders finally develop a resistant tree or create a permanent cure, the industry’s support infrastructure could be so dwindled that it may be too late to restore the industry to its rightful place.

Not only do we have to keep pushing forward with robust innovation, we must also learn to innovate faster. This is where the 99 percent of perspiration comes into play.

Every success is built on a continual foundation of trial, error, and consistent improvement. This innovation process is very costly in both time and money, but patent protection of intellectual property drives innovation by giving those who innovate a chance to recoup the costs associated with the trial, error, and improvement process.

There are too many people on the sidelines waiting to capitalize on a successful innovation solely for profit and a quick buck. Without patent protection, the people who innovate would be less likely to expend the time, money, and other resources needed to build something that can truly help fix a problem.

Relatively recent innovations in growing methods like CUPS and Tree Defender IPCs have started to turn the tide a bit, but there is still a lot of gap between.

CUPS has been successful within its own niche, but it may be not economical for juice growers and lower-tier fresh fruit. IPCs like Tree Defender have been very successful growing disease-free trees. This success has led growers to express a need for an IPC that is larger and can match the tree in size up into maturity.

This is where the 1 percent of inspiration appears.

With the recent issuance of our sixth and seventh patents based on these technologies, the Tree Defender team intends to meet this need by introducing a new trellis-type design that encompasses the best of both worlds. Within the next few weeks, we will have demonstrations set up in several of the growing regions for any interested grower to see.

While this new iteration is not intended to be a silver bullet, it does represent another step on the path to recovery for the Florida citrus industry.

Bio: Scott Thompson is co-founder of Tree Defender, Radical Ag-Tech, and Care Planet Technologies. He is a Central Florida native with a background in agribusiness, food manufacturing, and bioscience.

This column is sponsored by Tree Defender, and the opinions expressed herein may not reflect those of CFAN or of its advertisers.

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