Adversity Drives Innovation

by scott pickard

Businesses face adversity from time to time which directly impacts profitability, such as:

  • From man-made environmental and safety situations that precipitate regulations requiring costly compliance measures; e.g., the fuel efficiency and general safety regulations imposed on the automobile industry
  • The water and wastewater treatment regulations imposed on manufacturers by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Acts of God and natural global conditions such as drought which is currently affecting much of the agricultural land in production across the world

Each era in our history has had its challenges. The automobile industry has been able to respond to the adversity imposed by fuel standard regulations and over time, improve the quality of the cars and their competitive advantage. Manufacturers have been able to respond to the adversity imposed by water and air-quality regulations from EPA to build new corporate cultures that embrace green and sustainable practices requiring innovation along the way while building goodwill, brand, and competitiveness in the market.

Today, drought is one of the most serious and pervasive adverse challenges facing farming and farm communities worldwide. Instead of waiting for it to finally rain, the farm industry must pursue innovation in several key areas:

  • Storage of water
  • Recycling of wastewater back to subsurface ground and storage
  • Efficient use of water to grow next-generation crops requiring less water

Research is ongoing in all of these areas and when successfully applied, innovation will sprout wherever drought is an issue.

History teaches us that adversity at first may seem like a direct attack to profitability and the sustainability of our businesses, and this typically instigates a stubborn defensive reaction in the beginning. But history also shows us that when companies face adversity head on, people rise to the occasion and solve some very difficult problems and those solutions benefit everyone.

- sp -


Minimum Wage

While a federal bill to raise the minimum wage is stalled in congress, 29 states have a minimum wage greater than the federal rate – covering 60% of the working population. No less than 21 states raised minimum wages at the start of 2015, and more are likely to do so in the coming years.

minimum wage



Imagine H2O

Imagine H2O is a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire and empower people to solve water problems.

Hydrosphere Water We pay for water when we use it, and we pay for water when we get rid of it. GLOBAL: How are humans changing the global water cycle, the associated biochemical cycles, and the ecosystem function of the global water system?  What are the socio-economic and environmental feedbacks arising from these changes? Will a lack of water threaten energy production?  How can everyone have sufficient clean water without conflict?  INDUSTRY: Is the water quality of the plant internally and externally in compliance with relevant environmental laws?  What percentage of the company's revenues does it spend to maintain water quality to mandated levels? Is it reasonable or getting out of control? in general: | about | catastrophes: West Virginia | conservation: Americans have no idea how much water they’re using Yoshida | images | point-of-use (POU) purification:, hydronovation | serionix, SODIS solar disinfection | modeling: aquaveo, WaterML 2.0 | organizations: |  rain  barrels | recycling: stillsuit | research: Global Water System Project | scarcity: When the well runs dry, we shall know the value of water. Franklin, The End of Abundance Zetland | smart sprinkler systems: | sponsored projects: bluewater.rbc, charitywater | underground lakes: Kenya | ventre capital: Imagine H2O > Venture Capital | water cycle: video, diagram | water from air: islandsky big ideas | waterless textile dyes: airdye | water rights: California Water Wars  top educational literacy: α (1 / diarrhea) α (clean drinking water) α (solar rays + water) water quality: arid environments: sand dams | rooftop tanks: Inside City’s Water Tanks, Layers of Neglect Rivera | filter mechansisms: drinksoma, puremadi, WaterBean |bottleless water coolers: quenchonline | denitrification: eosenvironmental | desalination: onsite, voltea | on-site potable water purification:, | pool-in-a-river: pluspool |  USEPA Sole Source: Mahomet Aquifer | wastewater filtration: mmfwater books: The Big Thirst Fishman | The Great Lakes Water Wars | Water Wars: Privatization, Pollution, and Profit Shiva Venture Capital | Sustainability

Imagine H2O is a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire & empower people to solve water problems. Our vision is to turn water challenges into opportunities.

(Remote) Data to Knowledge

by Scott Pickard

A researcher at UIUC asked my thoughts about resources which could help him with his proposal to develop and deploy a wireless sensor/data/transmission/collection/storage/analytics platform to support the optimization of hard-to-reach, poor, small-plot agricultural regional economies.  I came up with the following list:

aerial data collection: PrecisionHawk
analytics and visualization: Google Fusion Tables
connecting devices to the internet: electric imp
crowd-driven area data collection: Loveland Technologies
platform: ThingWorx
real-time sensor networks: xively
remote monitoring: Illinois Structural Health Monitoring Project (ISHMP)

The off-the-shelf tools are out there.  It is a matter of putting them together in an innovative way to generate some new knowledge that is truly useful and can make an impact.

Big Data Sensors and Sensor Networks aerial data collection: PrecisionHawk in general: | | fiber optic temperature sensors | hydrogen | motion sensors movea, qualtre | optical | plant water level: plant link | radiation safecast | real-time sensor network: cosm | security: mocana | thermal light valve | water levels: gaugecam | wireless: twine internet of things: air quality egg | application development platform: thingworx | connect devices: electricimp | embedded systems: freescale | human interface: glass | plants: PLEASED big ideas | theinternetofthings medical: back: lumoback | medication: proteusbiomedical | orthopedic implants: orthosensor remote monitoring: | bio-physical: zephyr-technology | ruggidized communications: RFID: chips: impinj | extended capability: | hospital inventory: | software: odinrfid, | | systems: | | | Mapping | Home | Sports | Plants | Automate | Electronics | AI | Autos


Thinking differently about illegal immigration

Population Immigration  search in general: agricultural labor: Mexico | community-building: shelbyvillemultimedia | data: Migration Policy Institute | green card: roadmap | management system: books, essays, films: Borderland NPR | Of Mice and Men Steinbeck | The Arrival Tan | The Real Story of the Superheroes Pinzón | Welcome | Welcome to Shelbyville Snyder Agriculture | Data | Economic | Education | Employees | HR | Issues | JobsInstead of spending billions on infrastructure to (a) keep people out, (b) catch them, (c) jail them, and (d) return them, our government should reallocate those billions towards incentivizing U.S. companies to invest in Mexico-based agricultural and manufacturing facilities that create good jobs in Mexico that bring profits back to America.


Mexican migration to U.S. is declining

Manual labor for agriculture is getting harder and harder to find. For generations hard working immigrants from Mexico have come to US farms, nurseries and greenhouses to work, but that trend seems to be tapering off.  Shifting migration patterns have come to a point where migration from the US into Mexico is slightly higher than from Mexico into the US.

Population Immigration in general:  community-building: shelbyvillemultimedia | data: Migration Policy Institute | green card: roadmap | management system: books, essays, films: Borderland NPR | Of Mice and Men Steinbeck | The Arrival Tan | The Real Story of the Superheroes Pinzón | Welcome | Welcome to Shelbyville Snyder Data | Economic | Education | Employees | HR | Issues | Jobs