Federal funds help Lakeland and partners advance ag tech

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July 22, 2019
Lakeland is one of eight organizations that will advance national agriculture technology priorities thanks to new funding for the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN).
On July 22, the Government of Canada’s ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development announced an investment of $49.5 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund (stream four) for CAAIN, a network comprised of academic, private sector and research institutions to accelerate the automation and digitization of Canada’s agricultural sector.

Lakeland played a significant role in the development of the proposal in partnership with the other collaborators, including Alberta Innovates, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, Olds College, MDA Systems Ltd., Linamar Corp., DOT Technology Corporation and TrustBIX.

“Consumers are increasingly interested in sustainable food production. With this funding, and in partnership with TrustBIX and others, Lakeland will be involved in the development, testing and rollout of a sustainability data platform. This platform will allow everyone in the ag food value chain – from producers through to retailers – to track and verify sustainable practices in crop and livestock production, which is key to expanding Canadian agricultural products into new markets,” says Michael Crowe, Lakeland’s vice president of academic and research.

Lakeland’s role will include testing new technologies on existing crop and livestock units at the Student-Managed Farm – Powered by New Holland (SMF) at the Vermilion campus. Lakeland will also work with producers and other value-chain stakeholders on technology demonstration and adoption. 

“One of our primary interests is to work with TrustBIX and Viresco to develop a sustainability and traceability platform for the entire ag sector value chain,” says Crowe, noting organizations, including Cargill and McDonald’s Canada, have provided letters of support for this project.

There will also be applied research opportunities relating to the use of these new technologies for commercial crop and livestock production.

“We are thrilled to partner with these organizations as our agricultural sciences students will benefit greatly. On our SMF, they’ll gain valuable skills and experience by implementing and using new technologies that not only increase efficiencies and advance innovations in commercial ag production, but also assure the sustainability of our food supply system,” says Josie Van Lent, Lakeland’s School of Agricultural Sciences dean. “We look forward to reporting on future student projects that are developed with this new funding and how it continues to support leadership learning opportunities at Lakeland.”

Lakeland is developing a Bachelor of Applied Science Agriculture Technology program that, pending final approvals, will be offered starting in the fall of 2020. The proposed post-diploma program would bridge the gap between management and production in agriculture and new and emerging technologies, equipment and precision agriculture.