On Lanai, Sensei Farms grows produce through a hydroponic system in polyethylene greenhouses with a porous, robust plastic covering which automatically adjusts to wind speeds for optimal vegetable growth. Photos: courtesy of Sensei Ag

Founded by tech entrepreneur Larry Ellison and world-leading scientist and physician David Agus, Sensei Ag is where innovation meets food. “They wanted to use their capabilities, enormous scientific knowledge and extensive computing capabilities to transform human wellness,” explained Sensei Ag CEO Sonia Lo. The AgTech company uses data-driven farming methods to maximize the nutritional value of their produce. “We are master integrators. We are always scouting for the best and the brightest [talent in the technology industry], and we then integrate that [knowledge base] into our processes.” Sensei Ag takes advantage of available technology and innovation in the community to maximize nutrition for everyone.

“We want to cut into that too high number of imports in Hawaii and improve food security.”

-Sonia Lo, Sensei Ag CEO

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“It’s most important to optimize the light given to the plants,” said Lo, explaining that Sensei Ag is “form factor agnostic” and uses different types of indoor growing to give plants the best light access and growing environment possible. “We are working on building a direct light model which analyzes the light that would be received by a plant in any geography.” The farm on Lanai uses very tall polyethylene greenhouses and natural light to grow produce such as lettuce and tomatoes for the Hawaii locals. It also takes advantage of the fast wind speed on the island. The Lanai farm has automated veils that “move around and adjust to wind speed” which results in “great texture in our vegetables.”

Sensei Farms is a brand of Sensei Ag, founded by billionaire Larry Ellison and David Agus.

Sensei Ag’s technological innovation allows them to grow fruits and vegetables that are “bursting with flavor.” Lo explained that farmers are able to determine the best time to harvest the produce through its use of technology. “Through computer vision and high resolution cameras, you can determine the nutritional value of a fruit or vegetable without even picking it.

The tomatoes grown at Sensei Farms have a beautiful, natural red color and are picked at peak ripeness determined by Sensei Farms’ technological innovation.

In a nondestructive way, you can determine the health of a plant.” The company uses this innovation to minimize its use of pesticides and harvest its fruit and vegetables at maximum mineral and vitamin content, or “peak ripeness.”

Sensei Ag also places a huge importance on education in the agriculture and technology industry. “You can come to us as a passionate grower and we can teach you. We are going to create the next generation of farmers,” said Lo. Sensei Ag optimizes the opportunity to teach students in remote classes as well as in-person in the greenhouses on Lanai.

On Lanai, Sensei Farms uses an AI engine to “adjust flavor profiles to the palette of the people in Hawaii.” Sensei Farms grows different types of greens, such as wasabi arugula — a best seller — bok choy, herbs, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and eggplant. The farm is also looking into growing pine berries which are “strawberries that are white and taste like pineapples.”

Sensei Ag recently partnered with Foodland to share their products with every island. “We are excited to work with a local family and a local brand.” Five different clamshell lettuce varieties, plum and cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and four different types of loose head lettuce are currently sold in Foodland, with more being added. Sensei Ag is looking to expand their product offerings through research, as well as open additional farms on different islands. “We want to cut into that too high number of imports in Hawaii and improve food security.”