Project 17 Success-Stories

Water Management Company


The company produces mechanical and technical solutions for Ag problems, including water management.  They sell innovative products for flow control, actuation, intelligent automation, integration and interconnectivity. Services include: consulting, planning, design and manufacture, installation and maintenance.  The company had plenty of interest from the market, but was not realizing the profitability that they could.  They called Project 17.

Action Taken

Project 17 helped the company: 

• Reposition themselves in the marketplace to become distributors, which dramatically increased their revenues.

• Bring on line a QuickBooks Enterprise system, which improved their capability to manage their business through improved inventory control, allowing them to hire 3 additional people.  

• Project 17 worked with the company to evaluate the acquisition of a California-based manufacturing enterprise.

• Project 17 engaged the Monterey Institute of International Studies, MIIS, to produce a comprehensive business plan for the company to provide them with a roadmap for market expansion into international markets..

• Project 17 assisted the company with the development and implementation of an ISO 9000 equivalent QA program.


• Improved efficiency in field operations as a result of the QuickBooks Enterprise System resulted in the company being able to accept more business and generate more revenues.

• 2010 audited revenues of $650K with $175K pretax profits exceeded 2009 performance.  2011 revenues exceeded $1.2 million with pretax profits exceeding $400K.  

• With the help of Project 17,  the company put out bids for nearly $4 million of contract work in the first quarter of 2011 and closed a profitable $300,000 contract with a New Zealand firm.

 The company now has the necessary tools to control its growth in a manner that will ensure quality and profitability. 

Nitrates in Agricultural Water and Run-off


Agricultural water, soil and run-off in agricultural regions of the world -- and in the Salinas and Pajaro Valleys -- are laden with nitrates from fertilizers and animal wastes.  Some of the nitrates have been present for generations.  And chemical nitrate fertilizers made from natural gas have been heavily marketed to the world's growers, backed by agricultural scientists, since World War II as a safe and inexpensive way to get needed nitrates to plant root systems.  Project 17 wanted to bring our growers and shippers together to tackle the problem of cleaning up legacy nitrates and preventing further pollution by introducing them to technology solutions.  There will be no "silver bullet", no single technology or answer to the challenge, since the Project 17 region is a mosaic of different soil types and different source water quality.  We needed to provide our growers with options of technologies that could measure nitrates in soil and water, reduce nitrate application, and clean up legacy pollution.  If we could solve the problem for the growers headquartered in the Salinas and Pajaro Valleys, those solutions could be exported around the nation and the world.  Imagine farmers along the Mississippi being able to bring the Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" back to life.  That was the goal.

Action Taken

Over a two-year period, Project 17 and Dr. Susan J. Duggan of Smart World Center produced six think tank sessions for growers and shippers three of which addressed the issue of nitrates in agricultural water in the Salinas and Pajaro Valleys.  The sessions brought together normally fierce competitors to discuss in a politically safe and confidential environment their challenges with cleaning up and preventing further nitrate pollution.  During the process it became apparent that:

• The largest growers and shippers of fresh produce in the world love what they do and are looking for ways to be the best stewards of the land, air and water that they can be.

• Strongly-silo'd competitors can be brought together for common purpose, if the venues are designed correctly.

• There will be no single solution to nitrate problems;  an entire suite of solutions will be employed.

Partipants in the think tank sessions included Dole, Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Royal Rose Radicchio, Taylor Farms, Driscoll's, Tanimura & Antle, Christensen and Giannini, Rio Farms, Ocean Mist Farms, Comgro Soil Amendments, Paraiso Vineyards, Steinbeck Country Produce, Royal Packing Company,  APTwater, Inc., USDA, Microvi Biotechnologies, Hartnell College, Monterey County Farm Bureau, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, the Naval Postgraduate School, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine, Mitsubishi International Corporation, GRUNDFOS Silicon Valley, California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) Department of Science, the Small Business Development Center at CSUMB, AT&T, the Monterey County Water Resources Agency, Wilbur-Ellis Company, Crop Production Services, Fresh Express/Chiquita, Gills Onions, AMEC Deomatrix, the University of California at Davis, TrueTrac, the Central Coast Grower-Shipper Association, John Deere Water, HyClo, Inc., United Fresh Produce Association, Jefferson & Sons, Metz Fresh, Western Growers Association, SAP Global business Incubator, BioVantage Resources, ANZU Technology, True Leaf Farms and Church Brothers, Coastline Produce and Solsustech, Inc.


As a result of coming together to solve the nitrates issue a variety of technologies are now in testing with several regional growers.  Project 17 continues to link scientists at regional universities and national research organizations with growers and shippers who are interested in testing those devices that will have the greatest impact in their particular soil type with their individual water source.  Technologies now in testing with regional growers include:

• Wireless nitrate sensors from Lawrence Livermore Laboratory

• Water sensors from John Deere Water 

• Chemical-nitrate remediation technology from the University of California Davis

• Bio-nitrate remediation technology from the University of California Davis

• Nitrate remediation products from Microvi

© Susan Barich 2013     Call:  831-462-1413  1725 Grey Seal Road, Santa Cruz, California  95062