Olds College launches Pan-Canadian Smart Farm Network with GlacierFarm Discovery Farm and Lakeland College, funding from CAAIN

Student standing by a sensor on the Olds College Smart FarmOlds, Alberta, Canada, June 17, 2021 -  Olds College announces the launch of the Pan-Canadian Smart Farm Network—a network of Smart Farms committed to sharing data and expertise that will help farmers, industry and developers better understand, use and develop smart agricultural technologies. 

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Olds College Launches Pan-Canadian Smart Farm Network

Student standing by a sensor on the Olds College Smart FarmOlds, Alberta, Canada, June 17, 2021 -  Olds College announces the launch of the Pan-Canadian Smart Farm Network—a network of Smart Farms committed to sharing data and expertise that will help farmers, industry and developers better understand, use and develop smart agricultural technologies. 

With funding from the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN), the Pan-Canadian Smart Farm Network, lead by the Olds College Smart Farm, includes Glacier FarmMedia Discovery Farm located at Langham, Saskatchewan, and the Lakeland College Student-Managed Farm - Powered by New Holland at Lakeland’s Vermilion campus in eastern Alberta. The first project for the network will evaluate the functionality, connectivity and value of data collected from a common suite of sensors measuring soil, climate and crop conditions at sites in three provinces.

For Dr. Joy Agnew, Associate Vice-President of Applied Research at Olds College and Principal Investigator for the project, the collaboration across different agriculture zones and land bases brings more depth to the results of the evaluation, and that will benefit farmers and developers.

“Independent validation of ag technologies is critical and so is ensuring that validation is done using more than a single Smart Farm,” comments Dr. Agnew. “By joining with other partners, we’ll be providing farmers with information that will meaningfully inform their decisions about how and where to use sensor technology.”

Each project site has installed METOS Canada’s wireless sensors and devices that provide data including field monitoring, weather monitoring and forecasting, water management, disease modelling, insect monitoring and nutrition management. Some sites will use the data to make on-farm management decisions like timing of fungicide application, and will evaluate the benefit of using data to manage those decisions.

“Being part of this project builds on our mandate to connect farmers with industry and research partners to find practical solutions to ag challenges,” said Blake Weiseth, Applied Research Lead at Glacier FarmMedia Discovery Farm and Agriculture Research Chair at Saskatchewan Polytechnic. “We’ve used METOS sensor data in our field-scale projects for a couple of years and now, having access in real time to similar data from other sites in Canada will expand our understanding of its value.” 

At Lakeland College, project activities will be integrated into its Crop Technology, Animal Science Technology and Bachelor of Agriculture Technology programs, providing additional real-world learning opportunities for students. “We need to ensure our students understand the value and benefits of using data, and providing tangible experiences is the best way for them to learn,” says Josie Van Lent, Dean, Agriculture Technology & Applied Research at Lakeland. “For producers, our smart farm activities will demonstrate the adoption of new technologies, providing them with independent assessments of feasibility and usefulness. Overall, this smart farm collaboration will further catalyze innovation in the Canadian agriculture technology sector and support producers.” 

“Supporting the development of smart farms is one of our research pillars,” said CAAIN CEO, Kerry Wright. “When Olds College submitted this project for consideration, we were immediately intrigued. Smart farms validate and demonstrate the use of innovative agricultural technology in a specific environment, and they provide opportunities to train students enrolled in post-secondary agriculture programs on the latest trends in ag-tech. The pan-Canadian network concept’s additional advantage is its opportunity to link smart farms across the country, thereby multiplying learnings and increasing the value of any data generated.”

Work is underway to find additional smart farm network members across Canada. There will also be opportunities to link the Pan-Canadian Smart Farm Network with other smart farms around the world. 

“With additional partners come additional opportunities in applied research and education that will help producers maximize technology and data when they’re making those sometimes tough management decisions based on the realities of what’s happening in their fields,” says Agnew.

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About Olds College: Olds College is known for high-tech, hands-on agriculture education and innovative applied research that lays the foundation for solving real-world problems in farming, food and land. The College offers programming in Agriculture, Horticulture, Land and Environment Management, Animal Science, Food Production, Business, Trades and Apprenticeships. Olds College Centre of Innovation and Smart Farm are accelerating the development and adoption of technologies and practices that result in improved productivity, profitability and sustainability of the agriculture and agri-food industry through industry-driven applied research. Olds College has been recognized as one of Canada’s top 50 research colleges by Research Infosourse. As Canada’s smart agriculture college, Olds College is working to achieve its social purpose of transforming agriculture for a better world.

About CAAIN: The Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network is a not-for-profit company launched in July 2019 with funding of $49.5-million from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund and assistance from Alberta Innovates in the form of significant in-kind contributions. CAAIN connects and invests in Canada’s agri-food and technology sectors to drive innovation and productivity. caain.ca Twitter LinkedIn.

About Lakeland College: Established in 1913, Lakeland College is a place of possibility that serves more than 6,400 students every year at its campuses in Vermilion, Alta., and Lloydminster, Alta./Sask., and through online and off-site programs and courses. Lakeland’s agricultural sciences programming prepares graduates to make an impact in commercial agriculture and animal health. Programs are integrated with real-world learning situations and new technologies. The Student-Managed Farm – Powered by New Holland is Lakeland’s flagship student-led opportunity. Students are in charge of managing commercial-scale crop, livestock and ag research enterprises utilizing the latest equipment and technology. Lakeland’s Research Centre is a test-bed for innovations in agriculture and the applied research team is driven by one goal: advancing real-world agricultural productivity and sustainability.

About Glacier FarmMedia Discovery Farm: Glacier FarmMedia Discovery Farm Langham, SK, home of Ag in Motion. The goal of both Discovery Farms is to connect Canadian producers with industry and academic partners in the quest to find practical solutions to the most pressing agricultural challenges of today and tomorrow.