Smart farm network blends tech and agriculture

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Southern Alberta has no shortage of researchers working hard to advance the farming and agriculture industries which is why Lethbridge College is joining a smart farm network.

They’re the newest addition to the Pan-Canadian Smart Farm Network, which was launched by Olds College in 2021.

The network now has seven members across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba working collaboratively towards advancing agriculture tech solutions and sustainability.

“The expertise they bring and the added infrastructure and perspective and regionality of the type of work they do just adds a ton of value to the overall network and what we’re trying to do by accelerating the development and adoption of ag tech and practices, ” said dr. Joy Agnew, the vice-president of research at Olds College.

“Since the network was established a few years ago, Lethbridge College took over management of a former Alberta government research farm and now it just makes sense for us to join,” added Lethbridge College’s director of applied research, Megan Shapka.

The network focuses on finding new ways for farmers to thrive in almost any of our country’s ecosystems.

“Growing in Lethbridge is drastically different from growing in Olds, drastically different from growing in Saskatchewan, drastically different from growing in Manitoba,” said Shapka.

“All of our researchers can come together and share their knowledge, share their information and it’s all about best practices for farmers.”

“Being able to represent all those zones with all those different types of production systems is amazing because ag is so incredibly diverse and a single smart farm can’t do it all but, collectively, we’re hoping the network will,” added Agnew .

Olds College hopes to expand the network further east and west to cover Canada coast-to-coast and, hopefully one day, make their way across the pond.

The network focuses on finding new ways for farmers to thrive in almost any of our country’s ecosystems.

“We’re looking for opportunities to connect with international smart farms and network-like entities that already exist just to really broaden that horizon and broaden the connections,” Agnew told CTV News.

At Lethbridge College, researchers are excited to share the progress they’re making on irrigation with the network.

“We anticipate starting irrigation to expand across Canada, especially with all the climate change and water restriction things that we’re going to start to see in the agriculture industry,” Shapka said.

With funding from the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network, Olds College hopes their research will continue to help farmers and agriculture professionals flourish and grow for years to come.

For more information on the Pan-Canadian Smart Farm Network, you can visit Olds College’s website.

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