Olds College has officially launched the Olds College Smart Farm, an exciting new initiative that will see the College transform their existing farm operation into a farm of the future by incorporating the latest technologies aimed at improving productivity while efficiently and sustainably using resources.
“Working with industry partners from the agriculture and technology sectors, the Olds College Smart Farm will provide a cutting edge learning environment for our students and lifelong learners by providing a hands-on venue for industry to develop, integrate and test new agriculture technology and practices,” comments Stuart Cullum, President, Olds College.
A multi-million dollar initiative, the Olds College Smart Farm will be implemented in phases. The College is collaborating with partners from the private and public sectors, and government to build and fund this initiative. The plan is to grow partnerships along with the Smart Farm in the coming months and years to enhance student learning and applied research opportunities.
Phase one focuses on crops, with 110 acres being transformed into a smart farm by:
- installing stationary soil monitors
- installing digital weather stations
- evaluating soil and crops using spectroscopy and multispectral imaging along with artificial intelligence neural nets to help determine the differences in healthy and unhealthy plants, and the causes for health deterioration
- installing wireless grain bin sensors
- installing a wireless mesh network that will provide wi-fi to the entire farm
- equipment monitoring and control for best practice precision agriculture, including the use of monitors and controls on contractor equipment to gather data
- the use of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles)
- installing rural narrowband connectivity to ensure high quality internet connectivity
- incorporating farm management software platforms that gather, store, and visualize production and management data
- utilizing data analytics, machine learning, and AI to turn data into information, and information into knowledge
- partnering with expert agronomists who will serve as agronomic coaches to help analyze the data
“At Olds College we believe that agriculture is a key industry to our province and country’s success,” comments Cullum. “The Olds College Smart Farm creates an open environment for collaboration and research among industry and other post-secondary institutions to work together to advance the agriculture industry. Olds College has a great opportunity with our Smart Farm to facilitate engagement that address the challenges facing agriculture, in order for our ag sector to produce more while using less.”
The College also announced today that they are working to develop new programming in agriculture technology, and have partnered with Agri-Trade to host a Smart Ag Expo next summer. The Smart Ag Expo scheduled for August 13 & 14, 2019, will be a combination of an outdoor farm show, with hands-on technology demos, and a series of conference style workshops and courses that the public can register for.