Smart Farm

What is the Olds College Smart Farm?

In the summer of 2018, Olds College launched the Olds College Smart Farm, an exciting initiative that is transforming the College’s existing farm into a farm of the future. By incorporating the latest technologies aimed at improving productivity, while efficiently and sustainably using resources, the Smart Farm is creating a cutting-edge learning environment for students and life-long learners.

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.

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. 

Features of the Smart Farm encompass installing new technologies, including stationary soil monitors, digital weather stations, wireless grain bin sensors, a wireless mesh network that provides Wi-Fi to the entire farm, and rural narrowband connectivity to ensure high-quality internet.

The Smart Farm is incorporating farm management software platforms that gather, store, and visualize production and management data, while utilizing data analytics and machine learning to turn data into information and information into knowledge. Techgronomists on the Smart Farm team, use the technologies to analyze data gathered to make evidence-based decisions to improve productivity, profitability and sustainability.

Smart Ag Innovation Centre

To properly analyze data, plan for future growing seasons, and collaborate with students, industry partners, and producers, the College required a dedicated space in which stakeholders can meet and data can be processed. This space was created within the former President’s House and has been named the Olds College Smart Ag Innovation Centre (SAIC). The new facility includes a number of elements that are designed to contribute to the academic excellence of students, bolster applied research, decrease the environmental footprint of the Smart Farm, and be an industry leader in Smart Agriculture.

Smart Ag Innovation Centre

Smart Farm Projects

Below is a list of projects currently being worked on at the Olds College Smart Farm. (click to expand).

Decision Support Platform Comparison | November 2018

Problem Statement/Challenge: Farmers are faced with a huge multitude of companies providing data management software in the marketplace. Each of these softwares has costs associated with them, whether it be for a subscription fee or time that it takes to input the manage data. Farmers are looking for easy interfaces that allow for quick data input and easy functionality to help improve their decision making ability and data management on farm. By comparing multiple different software platforms we will be able to provide a comprehensive analysis of the capabilities, functionalities and end use of the products for farmers. This will be an unbiased assessment of the softwares and their benefit to farmers. Trimble Ag Software, FCC AgExpert Field, Climate Fieldview, Decisive My Farm Manager, Farmer's Edge Farm Command

Solution/Value Proposition:By allowing farmers to collect and manage their data it allows for better opportunities to make informed decisions with the hope of improving bottom line. We can evaluate the cost, in terms of time and effort involved as well as upfront charges to utilize the software. This will allow farmers to see if there is financial benefit in paying for a software and using it for data management and evaluation of in season applications. We can help to remove the buzz and see what aspects work well and sync nicely with other equipment and platforms and which platforms could use some further development to be more user friendly.

Project Type: Comparison

Start Date: November 2018

Purpose-Built Network | April 2019

Problem Statement/Challenge: Farmers are needing to connect their farm and data in a convenient place. As the need for data and data management and storage increases it becomes more important to find a solution that allows farmers to work with multiple companies and organizations. By 'Connecting the Farm' we are going to demonstrate the connection of multiple sensors into one platform for a easy to read location for farmers to find their in season cropping data. Currently, each ag company has their own interface and sensors for a farmer. This is causing challenges because farmers do not want to have a handful of apps and logins for each different sensor from each different company. Having one place to combine all that data and use on dashboard or interface for viewing would allow farmers to see their data in one place allowing for easier and faster decision making capabilities.

Solution/Value Proposition: ICT International provides low power wide area LoRaWAN network capability that connects devices through nodes to a gateway network, through The Things Network (enabling low power Devices to use long range Gateways to connect to an open-source, decentralized Network to exchange data with Applications) and into Eagle IO (a cloud based platform to remotely monitor environmental sensors) availible for visualization and analysis.

Project Type: Demonstration

Start Date: April 2019

Multi Sensor Cluster | April 2019

Problem Statement/Challenge: There are a variety of new sensors either coming to market soon or just hitting the commercial market with capabilities to measure soil properties. One of the challenges for a farmer is to determine which one can bring value to the farm and which sensors have accurate measures and reading in a dryland prairie environment. The technology is an upfront investment and there is minimal (if any) third party data comparing the accuracy and functionality of these sensors. By placing a variety of sensors in a clustered format on the college and comparing the accuracy to in season soil tests will help to develop a framework and neutral comparison of all the sensors to determine which are most valuable in the farming environment for Western Canada.

Solution/Value Proposition: The value of comparing the accuracy of each sensor allows farmers to determine cost and benefit of adding technology to the farm. When the sensors are accurate in reading moisture, environment and soil available nutrients it allows for faster decision making in season, obtaining instant results instead of waiting 5-10 days for lab tests to be returned. When weather conditions are favorable, being able to react quickly can allow a farmer to capture yield or respond to a negative event and improve crop response as soon as conditions change. Having these sensors in a cluster will also be critical in determining which provides the most value with accuracy in comparison to in season soil tests. The other value to this comparison will be evaluating the platforms in which each sensor collects data and the transfer of data from those platforms into the 'Connecting the Farm' platform. Plan to install Arable, capacitance/EP100, standing wave/MP306, Canopy temp sensor/EnvrioTherm 4000H, light interception/LINPAR and SQ-212

Project Type: Validation and Demonstration

Start Date: April 2019

Multi-Cluster Sensors | Smart FarmMulti-Cluster Sensors | Smart FarmMulti-Cluster Sensors | Smart Farm
Corn Grazing | Spring 2019

Problem Statement/Challenge: Feed value of a crop can change throughout the growing season depending on maturity. Determining the optimum time to allow cattle to graze for highest nutrient and feed value can help a producer to cut feed costs by getting the most out of the feed source before it begins losing nutrient value due to frost or crop degradation.

Solution/Value Proposition: Routine sampling and lab tests will allow us to determine how the nutritional value and biomass yield changes through the fall and winter months as well as determine how each corn variety performs under these growing conditions. Olds College Smart Farm is also collecting NDVI data to determine the viability of using imagery as an alternative and real-time method to monitor dry matter yield and feed quality.

Project Type: Demonstration/Comparison

Start Date: Spring 2019 for seeding, actual testing to begin with SAIT in May/June and feed/dry matter testing to happen from September to December prior to cattle grazing.

Status

2019 Corn has been Seeded and supplied by UFA for the plots. 6 corn bags for plots have been donated through UFA and their suppliers as well as one additional 4 varieties through Riser Seeds. Planning to fly with the Parrot Drone. Working to coordinate sampling with Livestock nutrition course and TAC technician to oversee.

Corn Grazing

Field to Glass | Spring 2019

Problem Statement/Challenge: Olds College Brewery to create fully transparent and traceable beer using malt barley grown on the Olds College Smart Farm with Decisive Farming and Grain Discovery's technology.

Solution/Value Proposition: To show the process of growing malt barley from seeding to processing to final product. Decisive will provide Croptivity and My Farm Manager for software and app support. Staff will provide Optimize Rx-s and Rx-f for minimum of 6 zones over 160 acres for scalability. The Decisive team will provide a Data Management Package to process yield data and conduct P and L evaluations with a grain buyers report. Decisive will also coordinate with Carbon Credit Solutions to utilize NERP to measure the GHG reductions. Olds College will provide the acres and cropping support to get the field seeded, sprayed and harvested. Grain Discovery will be creating an app to track the Barley through the process and creat a storyline. After harvest the barley will be cleaned and Red Shed Malting will malt the barley and package it for use in the Olds College Brewery. This end product will have a QR code that desplays a story line when scanned.

Project Type: Demonstration

Start Date: In progress

Regenerative Agriculture Project | Spring 2019

Problem Statement/Challenge: Pasture is overgrazed and struggling to manage adequate AUM's. By giving it a brief rest and grazing it in a new pattern we plan to enhance the current pasture and improve AUM's to allow for higher grazing potential in the years to come.

Solution/Value Proposition: By taking a new management approach we should be able to improve the plant matter and feeding capability of this ground. This should allow for greater feeding times in pasture and less time for cattle in confined feeding operations. it also allows us to be more economic by moving cattle to the feed source instead of bringing more feed to the cows which takes more time, labour and equipment.

Project Type: Demonstration

Start Date: Spring 2019

  

Thank you to our Olds College Smart Farm Partners

Farm Credit CanadaTelusUFA
  • Trimble

Education: Agriculture Technology

As a student in the Agriculture Technology programs, you will have access to the Olds College Smart Farm, a giant lab that gives our ag tech students a competitive advantage, and sets us apart from any other program offered in Canada. The Smart Farm ensures students have access to new and innovative technologies in a real-world ag environment.

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This dynamic NEW post-diploma certificate in Agriculture Technology Integration is designed to provide students with an understanding of how related technologies and components interact to provide accurate information and real-time monitoring and controls to the agriculture producer. You will be provided with opportunities to recognize the connectedness of, and interactions between hardware and software to enable producers maximum uptime in the field. You will learn to link emerging technologies with existing farm infrastructure including the installation, calibration, troubleshooting and repair of precision agriculture hardware and equipment, including mechanical, hydraulic and software systems.

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Grey Ag-Tech Icon Precision Agriculture - Techgronomy Diploma

The Precision Agriculture - Techgronomy program is an exciting NEW diploma focused on agronomy and technology. Graduates from the Diploma in Precision Agriculture - Techgronomy will be prepared for careers that require a deep understanding of the connectedness between agronomy, agriculture machinery/purpose built network management, and data sciences.

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