Joshua Viers:
AI for Ag for the San Joaquin Valley: using inclusive innovation to break the productivity paradox (Invited Talk)


Dr. Joshua Viers is a Professor of Water Resources Management in the School of Engineering at UC Merced, where he also serves as the Associate Dean for Research and campus Director of the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS). Since joining UC Merced, Dr. Viers has led campus efforts to build an Experimental Smart Farm, to develop a joint industry-university consortium on ag-food-tech research, and to convene several universities in developing water accounting methods to secure a climate resilient water future. His research is multi-disciplinary by design, team science based in execution, and dedicated to innovation in informatics and geospatial analysis in water and land management. He teaches environmental engineering with a focus on water resources management, geospatial analytics, ecosystem restoration and sustainability. Most recently, he is the lead investigator for the newly funded USDA Sustainable Agricultural Systems award on Securing a Climate Resilient Water Future for Agricultural and Ecosystems through Innovation in Measurement, Management, and Markets ( and the lead UC Merced investigator for the USDA funded Institute on Agricultural Artificial Intelligence for Transforming Workforce and Decision Support (

Presentation Abstract

Dr. Joshua Viers discusses the innovative research converging at the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) at the University of California, Merced. Focusing on three overlapping projects, AgAID, SWF, and F3, Dr. Viers describes new outcomes in ag-food-tech. Through the USDA-NIFA Institute for Agricultural AI for Transforming Workforce and Decision Support (AgAID), the team integrates AI into on-farm decisions, from labor to long-term planning. Secure Water Future (SWF), a $10 million, USDA-funded collaborative led by UC Merced, focuses on water banking, trading, and improvements in data-driven management practices to create a new climate adaptation decision analysis framework to arrive at a climate-resilient future in water-scarce regions of the United States. UC Merced is also integral to an effort to build the Fresno-Merced Future of Food Innovation Initiative or F3, a research program focused on innovation in the ag-food-tech sector, workforce development and just transition for agricultural labor. By focusing on “inclusive innovation,” F3 will help make sure that the benefits of climate smart agriculture do not bypass the underrepresented communities in the San Joaquin Valley. Through collaboration and cross-pollination of these projects, UC Merced has become a testbed for ag-food-tech research.