We’ve been seeing more innovative ag-tech concepts and new practices come to fruition than ever before, and thanks to initiatives like the Olds College Smart Farm program, these concepts are put to the test at a farm level.
The program, which began in 2018, conducts research and development on ag-tech, but takes it a step further to assess tech for its viability on farms and supports adoption.
Dr. Joy Agnew, associate VP of applied research at Olds College, leads the development of the Smart Farm program.
“Originally the Smart Farm was three sites with Olds College, Lincoln College, and Glacier Discovery Farm at Langham, Sask.. We are now announcing our first expansion site at the University of Saskatchewan, Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence, which is especially important for me as a U of S alum, and it’s our first university that is joining the network. They bring such a broad range of expertise and capacity and infrastructure, just to add tremendous value to the network. So I’m really really excited,” says Agnew.
The smart farms are connected through a network which allows data and findings shared between the farms, which allows for a better understanding and analysis of the research being done throughout different regions.
When discussing what technologies and practices are being tested at the smart farm sites, Agnew says the sky is the limit but largely encompass digital applications aimed at helping farmers make more informed decisions and to ultimately increase productivity, profitability and sustainability.
“The traditional definition of smart farming is very much on the digital side of things. It’s collecting data, it’s using devices to wirelessly collect and transmit data. There’s calculations happening in the cloud, and then recommendations or alerts are being sent back to phones, it’s all about utilizing data to help farmers make better management decisions,” Agnew shares.