The Summit Program

The 2023 Salinas Biological Summit provides the most in-depth overview of the opportunities that biologicals offer growers to improve crop yields and offer protection against a wide variety of plant diseases and insect pests.

Local and international experts will provide details of the innovation, the regulation and the global consumer landscape that is driving this conversation.

If you are looking to meet, engage and discuss with others this rapidly emerging opportunity, this is one event you will not want to miss.

Please check out the draft Program below.

Day One — Tuesday 20 June

7.30am – 8.45am

Delegate Registration
with coffee, juice, bagels

8.45am – 9.00am

Formal Welcome; Dave Puglia
President & CEO, Western Growers

9.00am – 9.15am

Formal Welcome; Secretary Karen Ross
Secretary, California Department of Food and Agriculture

9.15am – 9.45am

Plenary: The Current Landscape for Biologicals

Speaker: Pam Marrone PhD
CEO and Founder, Chestnut Bio Advisors
Co-founder & Executive Chair, Invasive Species Foundation and Invasive Species Corporation

Introducing the 'Accelerating Sustainable Pest Management: A Roadmap for California'.

The California Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA), and California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) launched the Sustainable Pest Management (SPM) Work Group, as part of the State of California’s commitment to accelerating the transition away from high-risk pesticides toward adoption of safer, sustainable pest control practices.

On 26 January, 'the 2050 Roadmap' was published. What does this mean for growers and every other key stakeholder group involved in improving sustainable pest management practices?

9.45am – 10.15am


Speaker: Julie Henderson
Director, California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation

10.15am – 11.00am

Morning Coffee Break

Understanding the Consumer & Social Landscape

Whilst regulation often drives evolutionary change in today's agricultural practices and processes, it is frequently the 'Voice of the Consumer' that has the greatest impact.  

That landscape is one well-known to Scott Komar from Driscolls. Scott will share some of the key insights he has learnt that will impact the wider grower community.

In this next session, we will also hear directly from Sherry Frey, Vice President, Total Wellness at NielsenIQ about the current consumer and social landscape. 

11.00pm – 11.30pm

Fireside Chat - The Voice of a Producer

Speaker: Scott Komar
Senior VP, Global R&D, Driscolls

Moderated by Candace Wilson
Regional Director, Western US at Farmers Business Network (FBN)

11.30am – 12.00pm

Plenary - The Consumer & Social Landscape

Speaker: Sherry Frey
Vice President, Total Wellness at NielsenIQ

12.00pm – 1.15pm

Join us in the Salinas Central Plaza as we provide a relaxing networking environment. Optional breakout sessions will also be hosted at this time.

EXCLUSIVE: Global Biological Ecosystem Map Release

During the lunchbreak, the team at Mixing Bowl will release their Global Biological Ecosystem map. Delegates can join them in the CSUMB Center for what will be a world's first view of 'Who's Who' in the biologicals space.

Understanding the Dealer Perspective


1.15pm – 2.00pm

The Dealer Panel Discussion 

  • Paul Crout
    Senior Product Manager & Agronomist, Helena Agri-Enterprises
  • Francisco Manzano 
    Director of Business Development, Nutrien Ag Solutions
  • Mike Wilbur
    CEO & President, Cavallo Ventures, Wilbur-Ellis Board

Moderated by Rachelle Antinetti
Founder, Antinetti Consulting

Meet New Zealand

New Zealand growers are facing many of the same challenges impacting on growers in the US. With a tradition of industry, research & government working in partnership, what can we learn from New Zealand's current horticultural landscape and how researchers and growers are adapting to increasing environmental pressures?

2.00pm – 2.15pm

  • Miriam Hall
    Business Manager, Plant & Food Research
  • Simon Yarrow
    Agritech ITP Lead, Callaghan Innovation

Understanding the Global Biological Regulatory Environment

The global trend towards increased biological research and application is well underway. What can California growers and others around the world learn from these developments and the regulation that is managing their growth?

2.15pm – 3.00pm

Global Regulatory Environment Panel Discussion 

Speakers with include representatives from:

  • Dr. Susanne Sutterlin (Netherlands)
  • Mike Mendelsohn (Chief Emerging Technologies, EPA)
  • Dr. Ran Shauli (Israel)
  • Keith Pitts (USA)

Moderated by Amy Roberts
Director, Regulatory Affairs, Lallemand Plant Care

3.00pm – 3.30pm

Afternoon Break

Understanding the Grower Landscape

Against the ongoing backdrop of accelerating climate events, labor shortages and increasing regulation, growers across the State continue to face multiple challenges. Some of these challenges are challenges shared across the world. 

The Grower Panel discussion will hear insights into the current landscape across different countries and across different crops.

3.30pm – 4.30pm

The Grower Panel Discussion

  • Mark Borman
    COO, Foodservice, President Taylor Farms California
  • Hillary Thomas
    Research and Technical Director, Naturipe Berry Growers
  • Zach Bagley
    Managing Director, California Tomato Research Institute
  • Tom Mulholland
    Owner, Mulholland Citrus
  • Don Cameron
    Vice President and General Manager, Terranova Ranch

Moderated by Dennis Donohue
Director, Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center

4.30pm – 4.55pm

Setting the Scene for Day 2

  • Secretary Karen Ross
    California Board of Food & Agriculture
  • Audre Kapacinskas
    Principal, S2G Ventures

Moderated by Stuart Woolf
President & CEO, Woolf Farming & Processing

4.55pm – 5.00pm

Day 1 Close - MC (Esmeralda Montenegro Owen)

5.00pm – 6.30pm

Networking and The Summit Reception

Summit delegates are invited to join the exclusive Networking event and Summit Reception in the Salinas main Plaza. Light refreshments and beverages will be served, as live entertainment brings music and song to end what is a very full day of conversation and 1-2-1 networking.

Delegates will be invited to experience a Western Grower state fruit and vegetable “offering”. Yes to that!

Day Two — Wednesday 21 June

7.30am – 8.25am

Delegate Registration
with coffee, juice, bagels

Meet the Australians

Australia is home to a wide variety of crops and growers operate in multiple different climatic and geographic environments. AgriFutures Australia has a mandate to support growers through its Rural Research & Development Corporation (RDC) status. What can growers everywhere learn from this model and how could it accelerate innovation in the biological space?

8.25am - 8.40am

John Smith
General Manager Levied and Emerging Industries, AgriFutures Australia

Understanding the Opportunity with DunhamTrimmer

In this highly anticipated session, we'll learn more from the team at DunhamTrimmer, the premier market research company that focuses exclusively on the global biological agricultural market, including the biopesticide, biocontrol, and biostimulant industries.

Just where do the biggest opportunities & challenges in the biological landscape lie?

8.40am - 9.30am

Understanding the Opportunity with DunhamTrimmer

  • Mark Trimmer, Ph.D,
    Founding Partner
  • Rick Melnick
    Partner and VP Global Business

  • Vatren Jurin
    Partner and VP of Product Development

  • Ashish Malik
    Senior Industry Associate

Understanding the Investment Landscape

With an increase in start-up activity in the biological sector, how are investors looking at opportunities in this space? At a time when venture funding into the broader agritech sector is being negatively impacted by macro-economic conditions, what do entrepreneurs need to consider as they seek to scale-up their business?

Whilst startup activity is increasing, the market already has some established industry players. In the following two panel sessions, how are they viewing the regulatory environment move towards 'more biology and less chemistry'?

9.30am - 10.15am

The Investment Landscape Panel Discussion

  • Kirk Haney
    Co-founder & Managing Partner, Radicle Growth
  • Phil Erlanger

    Co-founder & Managing Partner, Aliment Capital

  • Audre Kapacinskas
    Principal, S2G Ventures

Moderated by Larry Taylor
Co-founder & Managing Partner, The Yield Lab, Asia Pacific

10.15am – 10.45am

Morning Coffee
with 30-minute optional specialty breakout sessions

Looking to the Future. The Role of Innovation

The tools available to innovate are evolving at an increasing rate. The implications for entrepreneurs and those looking to develop solutions that meet the needs of growers are massive.

This session is designed to remove some of the hype that is sometimes used to 'over-sell' the opportunity. Just what should growers, entrepreneurs and investors be looking for in the years ahead?

10.45am - 11.30am

Looking to the Future Panel Discussion

  • Amy O'Shea
    President & CEO, Certis Biologicals
  • Juli Jesson
    CEO, Gowan Group
  • Elizabeth Fastiggi
    Head of Worldwide Business Development for Agriculture, AWS

Moderated by Ethy Levy
Managing Partner, Kinneret Impact Partners

Meet the Innovators

Accelerating the pace of innovation in the biological industries is critical if growers are to meet the increasing demand of regulators and consumers. There are a growing number of very smart companies leading the charge to make the necessary changes to meet this need.

In this session you will have the opportunity to meet some great examples of emerging companies that are making the difference.

11.30am – 12.15pm

Panel  1

  • AgBiome
    Jason Kuhlemeier, VP of Marketing
  • Impello
    Michael Key, Co-founder and CEO
  • Probelte
    Hector Rodriguez, US CEO
  • Vestaron

    Ben Cicora, SVP Sales & Marketing

  • BioStart
    Jerome Demmer, CEO

Moderated by Taryn Goodman Gallery
Partner at Cultivian Sandbox and Sandbox Sustainability Ventures

Panel 2

  • Greenlight
    Mark Singleton, Chief Commercial Officer, Plant Health
  • Krill Tech
  • Zest Biotech
    Nathan Balasingham, Co-founder & CTO
  • Boost Biomes
    Jamie Bacher, Co-founder & CEO
  • Groundwork BioAg
    Dan Grotsky, Co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer 

Moderated by Joshua Mackie
Technical Services Director, Gilmac Pty Ltd, Australia

12.15pm – 1.15pm


Join us in the Salinas Central Plaza as we provide a relaxing networking environment. Optional breakout sessions will also be hosted at this time.

Where to from here?
The View from the Research Community

Scientific research plays a significant role in bringing new products to market. There can be few areas in agricultural inputs more important than this. Growers are fortunate to have some of the sharpest brains around looking at how to improve soil and plant health.

The view from the research community is one of the most important elements of the Summit.

1.15pm – 2.00pm

The Research Community Panel Discussion

  • Helen R Dillard PhD
    Professor and Dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of California Davis 
  • Eugenia Saini
    Executive Director, FONTAGRO
  • Alex Cochran PhD
    Chief Technology Officer, DPH Biologicals

Moderated by Gabriel 'Gabe' Youtsey
CIO, University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources

Where to from here?
The View from the Major Agribusinesses

Over the past few years, the world's major agribusinesses have been establishing significant biological divisions. As the trend towards 'more biology, less chemistry' accelerates, how are they preparing to support growers meet the demands of regulators and consumers alike?

2.00pm - 2.45pm

The Major Agribusiness Fireside Chat

  • Bayer CropScience
    Peter R. Muller - SVP, Global Strategy Lead, Fruit & Vegetables
  • Syngenta
    Prem Warrior - Senior Technical Advisor, Valagro S.p.A/Syngenta Biologicals

Moderated by Keith Jones 
Executive Director, the Biological Products Industry Association

2.45pm – 3.15pm

Afternoon Break

Where to from here?
The View from industry Leaders

It's no surprise that biologicals are becoming a key focus for industry organizations. As local and international regulators begin to implement new rules and regulations, how are some of our key industry bodies responding?

3.15pm – 4.00pm

The Industry Leaders

Panel Discussion

  • David Gill,
    Co-founder, Rio Farms & Gills Onions
  • Josette Lewis
    Chief Scientist Officer, Almond Board of California
  • John Murphy
    Chair, Vegetables New Zealand
  • Steve McIntyre
    Co-founder, the Monterey Wine Company

Moderated by Albert Keck
Chair, Western Growers

4.00pm - 4.30pm

Keynote Speaker

  • Secretary Leon E Panetta
    Chairman, Panetta Institute for Public Policy and Former Secretary of Defense
4.30pm - 4.45pm

 Wrap up & Close

  • Peter Wren-Hilton
    Founder & CEO, Wharf42
  • Dennis Donohue
    Director, the Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center

4.45pm - 5.45pm

Closing Summit Networking Session

Summit delegates are invited to join the final closing networking session in the Salinas main Plaza. Light refreshments and beverages will be served, as we close out on two comprehensive days of learnings and conversations.