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Rural regions across the Prairies have long suffered from poor basic network and cellphone coverage. However, as farmers continue to ramp up their use of smart ag technology, the need for quality internet connection becomes more crucial, and the lack of connectivity becomes more frustrating.

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The smart agriculture and small plot crop research teams at Olds College of Agriculture and Technology have worked on an optical spot spraying project for the last three seasons. Carried out by the Olds College Centre for Innovation (OCCI), it aimed to assess the equipment and field performance of the WEED-IT Quadro system.

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Years in the making, the agriculture industry celebrated a substantial victory when Health Canada announced crops produced by gene editing are as safe for consumption as those produced by conventional plant breeding.

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At the Olds College Smart Farm, we have concluded a two-year project trialing the suitability of satellite imagery to build in-crop variable rate (VR) prescriptions. The project assessed the software used to access normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) imagery captured by satellites. It built VR prescriptions based on the imagery and we then applied that prescription in the field. We identified multiple benefits that include product savings, increased field productivity, opportunities for increased water rates and quick turnaround times to produce prescriptions. Additionally, we noted a few key conclusions.

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A farm kid with a love of computer programming, Luke Silinski has chosen to help young people engage with the world of agricultural technology. The Grade 12 student attends the Golden Hills Learning Academy online program. He is the creator of Ag Tech STEAM, a not-for-profit project that develops free, online ag tech educational materials for rural and underserved youth.

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Like his hero Henry Ford, Vermilion-area farmer, entrepreneur and self-taught mechanical engineer Danny Farkash aspires to reinvent existing machines and make them better. This past spring, GrainsWest visited the sprawling farmyard where he operates the thriving ironworks division of Noralta Farms and works on numerous side projects such as a portable sawmill operation and biodiesel factory.

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Of all the variables in agriculture, from prices and pests to supplies and sun, water is perhaps the most difficult to manage. Most Alberta farmers may prefer to forget the 2021 season, which illustrated just how damaging a lack of it can be. In southern Alberta, drought can be mitigated by irrigation, and local scientists are at work to improve the practice.

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A research project now underway at the Field Crop Development Centre at Olds College employs next-generation genotyping technologies to accelerate the improvement of feed and forage barley varieties and triticale forages. The work will also produce a genetic database that will be used in future breeding work.

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Amanda Hardman believes the amount of plastic packaging used in the produce aisles of her local grocery store is unsustainable. As a solution, the second-year sustainable agriculture student at the University of Alberta developed a prototype clamshell package made of sugarcane fibre and intended to transport lettuce. Initially a 4-H Canada Science Fair project, it earned her a spot at the Bayer Youth Ag Summit 2021. “People are looking for packaging options other than plastics as it has either been banned in some places or discouraged in others,” said Hardman.

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