Bioeconomy/Sustainability Community

Ottawa, January 11, 2018


View Highlights Below

Date: January 11, 2018
Location: Ottawa, ON
Venue: Chateau Laurier
1 Rideau Str. K1N 8S7

SASC seeked input through a series of community engagement sessions from partners in agriculture innovation.

The foundational principle of the Smart Agri-Food Super Cluster is to foster collaboration amongst agriculture communities by connecting technologies through Smart Agri-Food “nodes” which will be located across the country.

A discussion was held how SASC will address the issues of digitally connecting systems-based decisions on-farm with measures and metrics to quantify greenhouse gas reduction - making carbon offsets easier and cheaper to generate and accelerate innovation adoption.

This day highlighted several case studies as examples of initiatives the Smart Agri-Food Super Cluster can accelerate and scale across landscapes and farms. Discussions identified opportunities to refine and build upon initial concepts within the SASC moving forward, with a focus on improving supply chain coordination, accelerating on-farm digital innovation collaboration, supporting trade growth and economic development, and helping Canada achieve its climate targets.

Hosted By:

Karen Haugen-Kozyra, President Viresco Solutions/Biological Carbon Canada Board
Graham Gilchrist, Interim CEO, Biological Carbon Canada
Doug Beever, Agrium/SASC Transition Board
Rob Davies, Interim CEO, SASC Transition Board

January 11, 2018 Agenda

9:30 – 9:45Welcome, Overview & IntroductionsDoug Beever
9:45 – 10:10Why the Smart Agri-Food Super Cluster?
Participants learned about our community and node approach for fostering agriculture growth.
Rob Davies - SASC CEO
10:10 – 10:25What is the Bioeconomy Opportunity Area in the Smart Ag SuperCluster?
Systems-based stewardship platforms in agriculture and forestry, with support from the entire value chain, will drive economic and environmental performance. Leveraging technology and digital data capture/analytics in agriculture can help overcome pinch points to monetizing carbon reductions, scaling environmental benefits and can position Canada as a global leader in climate change mitigation.
Karen Haugen-Kozyra - Viresco Solutions
10:25 – 10:40What is Biological Carbon Canada and what Role does it Play in the Bioeconomy Innovation Community?
Biological Carbon Canada (BCC) is a new accelerator in Canada, emerging from the momentum started by the Coalition on Offset Solutions. The Coalition, representing over 100 stakeholders from 55+ organizations across Canada believes biologically-based GHG reduction, removal and replacement activities can contribute up to 30% of Canada’s reduction potential. BCC is an anchor tenant in the Bioeconomy Focus Area of the SASC.
Graham Gilchrist - BCC
10:40 – 11:00Group Discussion – Shared ideas on the key innovation/technological barriers to generating carbon reductions, water quality mitigation and other environmental goods and services, at scale. See key learnings below.Discussant: Tracy Scott - Ducks Unlimited Canada
11:00 – 11:30 (Case Study #1)Towards Carbon Neutral Beef – Generating the World’s First Beef Carbon
Beef production continues to be plagued with negative press on its environmental footprint, particularly from a greenhouse gas perspective. This initiative is based on Alberta’s Carbon Offset market protocols for beef, and has been the first attempt at building the necessary data collection, digitization, and monitoring, reporting and verification systems to generate compliance-grade carbon offsets for sale to Alberta regulated emitters. An eye towards the future for new technologies and more efficient systems is being contemplated.
Calvin Booker - FHMS
11:30 – 12:00Group Discussion – Shared what else needs to occur to drive on-farm adoption of innovations to accelerate productivity, access environmental markets and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. See key learnings below.Discussant: Doug Beever
12:00 – 12:45Lunch and Networking
12:45 – 1:15 (Case Study #2)Carbon Accounting and Insetting Framework – NCGA, SHP and Monsanto
Currently, GHG reductions are difficult and costly to quantify, verify and report. This makes it challenging to encourage agricultural stakeholders to adopt GHG reducing practices and programs. The National Corn Growers, Soil Health Partnership and Monsanto, with assistance of a USDA-NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant have reached out to Canadian leadership experience to identify and address pinch points in measuring, monitoring, reporting and verifying carbon reductions with the hopes of smoothing the path in the future for agribusiness companies and farmers wanting to engage in agricultural solutions to climate change.
Bill Salas - GeoApplied Solutions | Karen Haugen-Kozyra - Viresco
1:15 – 1:30Group Discussion – Shared thoughts on how the SASC agriculture can help leverage technology and data integration to achieve carbon reductions at scale. See key learnings below.Discussants: Rod Snyder - Field to Market | Doug Beever - Nutrien
1:30 – 2:00 (Case Study #3)Building a Traceable, Low Carbon Beef Supply Chain
Export markets are an important opportunity for the Canadian beef and dairy industry. Understanding the market’s desired attributes and being able to provide full provenance and transparent, secure data management systems and standards to monitor, report and verify low carbon metrics across supply chains to end users is the way of the future. This example uses genetic improvements, lower carbon selection of animals, and block chain technology to authenticate transactions and report to end users in Europe.
Alison Sunstrum - Growsafe | Anne Gillespie & Stuart Adams - Textile Exchange
2:00 – 2:15 (Case Study #4)Lake Erie-Winnipeg 4R Water Anchor Project
A project about Canada and the U.S. Working Together to Implement Local 4R Efforts to Enhance Lake Erie and Lake Winnipeg Sustainability.
Discussants: Clyde Graham - Fertilizer Canada | Doug Beever
2:15 – 2:45

Group Discussion: Key Questions

  • Members of the innovation community shared how they would like to see things progress to assist in engaging with them to identify top priorities
  • Outside of funding, the group shared what roads and bridges projects this community should work on (e.g. data standards, product standards)
  • Outside of ISED funding, the group shared other funding and resourcing ideas that should be leverage, by taking on these efforts.
Facilitators: Doug Beever | Karen Haugen-Kozyra
2:45 – 3:00Smart Agri-Food Super Cluster – Next Steps & Closing MessageRob Davies

BioEconomy/Sustainability Innovation Community - Ottawa, January 11, 2018

Discussion Highlights

Topic 1: What are the key innovation/tech barriers to generating carbon reductions, water quality mitigation and other environmental goods and services, at scale?

Q: Do you believe that a lot of solutions to these problems are already at hand or is it about execution and deployment and/or is an innovation/incubation process required?

A: Both; the approach is not well coordinated. One of the areas that Ducks Unlimited is working on is a conservation easement program. We have many beef producers who maintain grasslands and get paid for it, however the demand is outstripping supply of funding. Conversely, wetland restoration process funding is fairly stable. Having a streamlined government approach is necessary. Overall there is a lack of consistent metrics regarding wetland loss; additionally, there are a variety of complex protocols and approaches that impede large scale investment

Comment: Producers will do what makes sense; once we understand profit surface map, value proposition must be good to those who are operationalizing it. There is an ongoing need to understand the data, more specifically how to operationalize it. A framework is required to accumulate that data in a meaningful way in order to make it profitable to the producer.

Comment: Technology is a massive financial investment as well as a massive investment in producer time to learn new technology. The engagement with farmers is challenging because the carbon ‘game’ is very confusing. Would like to see the opportunity taken to develop a farming unit and let the farmers take ownership of that unit at which point we will likely see bigger change

Topic 2: What else needs to occur to drive on-farm adoption of innovations to accelerate productivity, access environmental markets and reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

Protocols and pressures globally will continue to mount. Companies are being forced to report out on financial impacts of climate change; how do we work with our customers to create value and structure around that?

  • Economies of scale: little interest when value for effort is low; data must be collected efficiently and simply to make it as simple as possible to increase uptake

  • Competing priorities: farmers have lot of other, bigger, priorities. This needs to fit within the data gathering they already do in order to allow them to want to take this on

  • Growers need to see value beyond the revenue from offsets

  • Growers own the data. How is it possible to share that data in a way that non-specific enough to be shared at a large scale? Data integrity needs to be maintained and ownership remains a huge questions for growers

  • Have not connected consumer market with bio offset (e.g. if I don’t launder my towels at a hotel than I plant a tree)

  • Must identify opportunities to have waste outputs from one sector used as inputs in another and get adequately monetized credit for it

  • Difficult to show progress over the short term (to both public and government) when using long-term solutions (e.g. 4R to reduce phosphate loading in Lake Erie)

  • Paper burden/data collection burden on grower

  • Must be able to make the distinction between direct monetized benefits and indirect monetized benefits. Direct benefits hold a stronger business case

  • Stronger ‘line of sight’ visibility between sectors so non-ag sector understands value in investing in agricultural improvements

  • In low margin business, investment capital to make changes is a challenge even when change is identified as potentially profitable

  • Partners in ICT and digital systems to help streamline the processes

  • Clear understanding of issue at hand and how this translates to their (farmers) bottom line; clarity in policy

  • Must have agreement on what the baseline is for farmers

  • Bring an all inclusive block chain approach from farm to consumers

Topic 3: What are your thoughts on how the SASC agriculture can help leverage technology integration to achieve carbon reductions at scale?

Field to market is a multi stakeholder alliance founded in 2007 with a focus on sustainable agriculture. Look at GHG, soil erosion and other outcomes. The Field to Market program is built around 3 pillars: benchmarking and data collection, data driven opportunities for improvement and aggregate data and learnings to enable supply chain sustainability claims. In 2017, Field to Market signed a memorandum of understanding to work on standardized approaches to advance technology of measurement and verification protocols in Canada. Main barriers to scale and adoption: 1) how do we have access to accurate field scale data 2) consistent market science based indicators 3) better definition of value proposition for farmers and supply chain companies.

Q: What are the 8 environmental indicators used by Field to Market?

A: Land use, water quality, irrigation and water use, GHG, energy efficiency and biodiversity

  • Tremendous sensitivity to data privacy issues; currently all data is aggregated prior to reporting so that no individual farmer will be exposed. Want to ensure that farmers are not penalized for things that are out of their control

  • Food security could be the largest driver of change; ripples through all sectors

  • Addressing state of Canadian soil data; we do not have the same quality of data that exists in the US, but what we intend to do is to move toward digital soil mapping over the next 5 years so that we will have a very good estimate of soil properties at specific locations. Currently our modelling is limited by lack of detailed soil information

Topic 4: Key Questions

1. As a member of the innovation community, how would you like to see things progress to assist in engaging with you to identify top priorities?

  • More focus on farmer friendly data collection and sharing

  • In general, for this project, objectives have not been clearly stated. Need clearer vision and objectives, clearer call to action and also need to distinguish the discussions today from very similar discussions held in ag meetings

  • Community would work on data and measurement standards – securing transparency of data and methodology

  • More discussion re. other environmental concerns other than just GHGs and carbon

  • Continue workshops of increasing focus; end up in project groups and members can self-select based on project

  • Increase engagement: phone calls, live google docs, 1-2 day meetings with projects and breakouts to achieve outcomes

  • Position the SASC beyond agri-business to show SASC is critical to Canada’s economic growth and job creation

  • More engagement but with a facilitated engagement plan around project ideas with potential partners

  • If cluster is a success funding will come to innovation ecosystem

  • Summaries of workshops with highlights and themes noted

  • Identify a process to collect inputs and feed the dialogue

  • Develop a communication and information platform to track priorities, progress, results etc.

2. Outside of funding, what roads and bridges projects can this community work on?

  • Interactions with groups that are not strictly agricultural in nature; extend to other areas of bioeconomy

  • Clarify the difference between actions taken and the way outcomes are measured

  • Need a more cohesive approach; what is the connecting vision of these individual/discreet pieces that were presented today

  • Data review, API/software background systems to capture data, soil mapping

  • Seems that an aggressive farmer engagement and re-commitment effort is needed at the development phased and well before deployment

  • For each innovation community identify those projects where we are world leaders or following a global need. There are several projects where we are first in class and weaving them together will enhance Canada’s competitiveness and global leadership

  • Map the problems/constraints with potential partners to see where we need to move

  • How do we bring some of these good ideas and projects to Canada? Need to adopt our own technology first

  • IP protection

  • Deployment and commercialization

  • A roadmap that shows relationships between standards, protocols and BMPs

  • Mechanisms to bring other sectors (non-ag) but who have a role to play, into the dialogue

3. Outside of ISED funding, what other funding and resourcing can this group leverage, by taking on these efforts?

  • Internal funding of members pooled and deployed to joint projects

  • Investments by other sectors into ag improvements by showing the value to them