This past growing season, the Olds College Centre for Innovation (OCCI) research team installed LI-COR chambers on one of the institution’s Smart Farm fields to monitor soil emissions of potent greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O). Advanced technology that produces high volume results quickly, the solar powered system consists of several automated gas chambers connected by tubing to two solar powered trace gas analyzers housed in a small shed.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recently approved gene editing for use in breeding new crop varieties. Plant breeders will now be able to apply the technology to their work. Gene editing has the potential to quickly develop new varieties with greater accuracy in targeting traits such as drought and disease resistance. The agronomic and trade implications are promising for farmers.
For developers of next-generation agricultural equipment and systems, the gap between drawing board and commercialization can be a lonely wilderness. To support the efforts of such innovators in the agri-food and technology sectors, the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN) was formed in 2019 with a $49.5 million grant from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund.
As part of a two-year project, the University of Alberta is building the Database on Alberta Soil Health (DASH). The goal is to create an online resource that marries soil data with associated agronomic and climate data to generate recommendations for use by farmers, soil scientists and agronomists.
FuelPositive of Waterloo, ON, has the ambitious goal to disrupt the global ammonia industry with its customizable, on-farm production system. These modular, containerized units would allow farmers to produce their own anhydrous fertilizer and, eventually, fuel. It’s a timely project given recent input cost fluctuations.
The Canadian agriculture industry came out cheering in May of this year when the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced its updated guidance on plant breeding innovation.
Now in its second year, the Palette Skills Automation and Digital Agriculture Specialist Program is intended as a gateway for much-needed, skilled digital professionals to enter the agriculture sector. The eight-week Digital Agriculture course is funded by the federal government and the Enterprise Machine Intelligence and Learning Initiative. Open to post-secondary graduates with minimum three years of work experience, it includes subjects such as AI, big data, drones, GIS, IoT and robotics.
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.