The Alberta provincial government is giving almost $3.2 million will support 10 projects that will develop and advance smart technologies to enhance food production through digital solutions and automation, a May 26 news release said. The funding is being delivered through Alberta Innovates’ Smart Agriculture and Food Digitalization and Automation Challenge.
“This investment supports more made-in-Alberta solutions to address challenges in the agri-food sector and will increase competitiveness on the global stage. We are seeing economic diversification in our province and advances in agricultural technology is a perfect example,” Doug Schweitzer, Alberta minister of jobs, economy and innovation, said in the release.
The release noted smart agriculture focuses on the development and application of innovative technology to increase the quantity and quality of agriculture and agri-food products. The projects funded will help to increase productivity, reduce waste and the environmental footprint of production, and decrease costs for Alberta farmers.
Alberta Innovates anticipates these projects have the potential to create 31 immediate jobs and a projected 113 new jobs once new products and services are commercialized and deployed, the release noted.
One of the funded projects includes the development of a hyperspectral optics camera to capture high-resolution images of farmland from space. This advanced imaging technique collects hundreds of images at different wavelengths to form 3D data that allow details usually invisible to conventional imaging, such as pests and diseases, to be more accurately detected. These detailed vegetation images will help farmers determine crop health and perform moisture mapping to get the most out of the growing season, the release said.
Another funded project involves the development of an artificial intelligence data recording kit, which enables the creation of a digital twin of the farming environment. This allows conventional tractors like land rollers to be converted to autonomous tractors.