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Smart Farm Wordmark

A living lab for hands-on learning, it is a place for innovation, validation, demonstration and scaling of smart connected agriculture technology through industry partnerships.

Applied Research Projects

Smart Farm Wordmark

The Smart Ag Innovation Centre is a dedicated space used to properly analyze data, plan for future growing seasons, and collaborate with students, industry partners, and producers.

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Smart Farm Wordmark

Werklund School of Agriculture Technology

Launched in September 2019, the Werklund School of Agriculture Technology is committed to providing a one-of-a-kind learning experience that prepares students for future-focused careers and leadership roles throughout the ag sector.

View Ag Tech Programs

Olds College Smart Farm - A Living Lab for Agri-Food Development

Olds College, in collaboration with its industry and sector partners, is converting the whole of its farming operation to a Smart Farm: an interconnected environment through which the college is leveraging its land (2,000 acres), existing agriculture operations, and applied research programming, in order to provide a product development and demonstration venue to accelerate agriculture technology and agri-food development.  At the same time, the Smart Farm serves as a cutting-edge learning environment for students, producers and the agriculture sector. 

The Olds College Smart Farm is essentially a giant lab that provides the agriculture sector a venue for commercial scale applied research. It is attracting investment and engagement from companies ranging from multi-national ag and tech companies to SMEs (small and medium enterprises). It also provides our students with a learning environment centred on the future of ag and technology, setting the learning experience apart from other programming in the country. 

The purpose of the Olds College Smart Farm is to:

  • Establish the most efficient way to collect and implement the world's best digital agriculture technologies for crop and livestock production;

  • Demonstrate increased efficiency of farming operations through implementation of smart technologies and practices; and 

  • Utilize commercial and pre-commercial technologies for world class education, demonstration, and applied research. 

View the Smart Farm Impact Report

The philosophy and principles guiding the development and operation of the Olds College Smart Farm are centred around engaging producers and industry on addressing real-world problems by utilizing and integrating technology and data. The Smart Farm is also focused on teaching students how to integrate, manage and leverage ag technology for the enhancement and sustainability of agri-food production. 

With the introduction of the Smart Farm, Olds College has created a trusted space where our partners can collaborate together and work to advance agriculture.  The Smart Farm creates a place for producers, industry partners, students and faculty to look at the opportunities and challenges facing the agriculture industry and investigate solutions to evolve agriculture practices.  

In the end, Olds College believes that our focus on ag technology and the problems to be solved will serve as a catalyst for new thinking and leadership that inspires cross-industry solutions, innovation and strategic decision-making.

Olds College Smart Farm Crop and Livestock Plan 2020

Olds College Smart Farm includes 1,843 acres of land for crops and forage production (1,117 acres on main campus, 418 acres across highway 2, and 308 acres at Pitstra Farm - excluding ponds, roadways, and natural areas).

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Smart Farm Projects & Activities

Autonomous Agricultural Equipment

Automation and robotics for farm operations presents numerous opportunities and challenges for western Canadian agriculture. The applied research related to the DOT power platform and implements is focused on an evaluation of the technical, economic, and environmental "footprint" of autonomous agricultural equipment operation.

  • Comparison of "life cycle" field efficiency of autonomous equipment and conventional equipment for a variety of field configurations and conditions.
  • Understanding required labour and skillset required for long-term operation of autonomous agricultural equipment and comparison with conventional equipment
  • Optimization of mapping tools and techniques to improve efficiency of making a field "DOT-ready"

Data

Smart and precision agriculture is heavily reliant on data. Research at Olds College is focused on developing and optimizing ways to collect, manage and utilize on-farm data for evidence-based decision making.

  • Hyperlayer data concept development including generation and utilization of multiple layers of geospatial data for the creation of predictive algorithms, mapping plant available soil nutrients, and identification of yield limiting factors.
  • Using as-applied data to assess overlap reduction with sectional control technologies
  • Compilation of training data sets and specific data layers to validate and optimize novel soil and crop mapping techniques
  • Development of a user guide that outlines prescription mapping methods from different service providers and the corresponding file formats
  • Evaluation and summary of features for various farm data management platforms

Sensors

On-farm data collection relies on climate, soil, crop, and weather monitors and sensors. The applied research at Olds College is focused on evaluating the functionality, accuracy, reliability, and connectivity of pre-commercial and commercial sensors and understanding the value the data can provide to producers.

  • Implementation of a multi-sensor cluster to evaluate and compare performance of several types of soil, climate, and crop sensors
  • Measuring the effect of method of installing soil sensors on accuracy of soil moisture data
  • Validation of real-time soil nutrient sensors
  • Evaluation of a novel micro-climate sensor

Technology Development and Validation

New technologies for agriculture require in-field validation and testing in the setting of an operating farm. Olds College applied research supports refinement and optimization of technologies and provides users with information on functionality, accuracy, and value of technologies.

  • Evaluation of variable rate prescription mapping using satellite imagery
  • Preliminary development of cattle facial recognition for cattle identification, lameness detection, etc.
  • Development and testing of an automated and remotely monitored in-pasture weighing system
  • Assessment of performance, accuracy, and cost effectiveness of optical spot spraying in western Canadian conditions.
  • Validation of a novel sensor and algorithm that predicts when grain reaches "average" dry during in-bin drying

Regenerative Agriculture

Regenerative agriculture practices support a more holistic management of cropping and livestock systems to improve overall soil health, biodiversity, and sustainability of food production. Applied research at Olds College focuses on evaluation of technologies that support and quantify the benefits of regenerative agriculture practices.

  • Evaluation of technologies for remote grazing management and quantification of benefits of intensively managed grazing versus conventional grazing on animal, soil, and forage health
  • Evaluation of novel crop cocktail blends on long-term soil and forage health

View All Smart Farm Projects



Smart Farm Articles

  • Answering the Digital Ag Question

    Industry partners and producers have identified that Ag digitization represents the one of the biggest opportunities – and one of the greatest barriers – for the future growth and development of the sector.  However, data is often a double-edged sword: too much is choking many producers, and too little is preventing enhanced decisions that can strengthen production, sustainability and profitability. 

  • Finding Solutions for Real-World Problems

    Olds College knows that it has a responsibility to facilitate innovation throughout the ag sector and help producers, business and industry find solutions to real-world problems. We also know that successful research begins with building the right team.  That’s why Olds College was delighted to recruit Dr. Joy Agnew as the Associate Vice President of Applied Research and head of the Olds College Centre for Innovation in January 2019.

  • HyperLayer Data Concept

    Alex is introducing a HyperLayer Data Concept to the Olds College Smart Farm.  The next generation of digital farming technologies, based on machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), requires comprehensive training datasets with geographical coordinates. The main difficulty is that various types of information comes from different sources and in different formats. Even classical types of statistical analysis, such as correlation, regression etc., require data to be standardized and stored in the same format.

  • Olds College Crop and Livestock Plan 2020

    Olds College Smart Farm includes 1,843 acres of land for crops and forage production (1,117 acres on main campus, 418 acres across highway 2, and 308 acres at Pitstra Farm - excluding ponds, roadways, and natural areas). 

  • Renewed Approach to Agronomic Management

    The Olds College farm has historically focused its usable farmland to support the needs of the college’s livestock enterprises through hay, pasture, silage, feed grains and some cash grain. However, with the introduction of the Olds College Smart Farm a new agronomic approach is required to support the needs of students, staff, researchers and industry partners.

  • Werklund School of Agriculture Technology

    Launched in September 2019, the Werklund School of Agriculture Technology is committed to providing a one-of-a-kind learning experience that prepares students for future-focused careers and leadership roles throughout the ag sector. 

  

  

Thank you to our Olds College Smart Farm Partners

Investors

Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI)Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council
David Werklund and Susan NormanGeorge & Marge StecklerEstate of Willem and Marj Pitstra

Western Economic Diversification (WED)

  

Partners

ATBUFA


   

Neighbors

Art & Shirley Froelich

CERVUS Equipment

Farm Credit Canada

Trimble/Vantage

  

Friends

Alberta Real Estate Foundation

Alberta Wheat Commission

Canadian Red Angus Promotion Society

Homestead Feast

NRCC-IRAP

SaskWheat and Western Grains Research Foundation

Western Grains

Zelenka Farms

Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada

Alberta Beef Producers

amii

Arable Labs

Canada Malting

Canadian Agriculture Partnership

Climate Field View

Crop Pro Consulting

Decisive Farming

Farmobile

Farmer's Edge

Grain Discovery

ICT International

Intelliconn/Verigrain

Mitacs

NuFarm

Pessl/Metos

Raven Bay

RealmFive

Red Shed Malting

SAIT

Stream Technologies

Union Forage

University of Manitoba & Beef Cattle Research Council

Croplands (WEEDit)

Wilson, Erma & Roy

WIN

Zedi

Zone Startups Calgary


  • DOT Autonomous
  • Sensor