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PRICE TRANSPARENCY AT A GLANCE

Nieuwenhuis describes the by-product feeds market as opaque. FeedXchange gives farmers, the ability to see what others are paying and to view historical price trends that can significantly influence purchase decisions and allows them to manage expenses.

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SKILLS TO FIT THE FUTURE

As the agricultural landscape undergoes a significant shift, Olds College of Agriculture & Technology stays attuned to the industry’s emerging needs and trends such as the critical challenge posed by the current labour shortage. We perceive this challenge as an opportunity to sculpt the future of agriculture through progressive education and state-of-the-art technology.

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BLOWIN’ IN THE WIND

Each year, crop diseases diminish yields in Western Canada and around the globe. To address such perennial threats, Australian company BioScout created its signature product, an agricultural disease detection, spore identification and quantification system. Its purpose is to help farmers manage crop disease by identifying spores prior to the appearance of symptoms on the plants. BioScout has launched active pilot projects around the world to test the unit’s ability to detect diseases in crops such as fruits, vegetables, oilseeds, legumes and cereals.

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VARIETY SHOW

Whether it’s pernicious pests, an unpredictable climate or increasing costs, threats to cereal crops constantly evolve. To build and maintain a sustainable system for cereal production in Canada requires the ability to adapt. There are few better examples of adaptability in agriculture than the efforts made by plant breeders to assist farmers. 

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ENHANCED EMISSIONS DATA

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.

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A DREAM OF BETTER DATA

Today, AI and its corollary of machine learning have recently become buzzwords everywhere, including agriculture. The implementation of both requires data. It is readily available but, in the area of harvest data, sorely lacks veracity.

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THE ROI ON DNA

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.

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ASSISTANCE FOR AG-TECH INNOVATION

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.

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A DASH OF BIG DATA

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.

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REVOLUTIONARY FUEL AND FERTILIZER

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.

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