Digital/Connectivity Community

Ottawa, January 16, 2018


View Highlights Below

Date: January 16, 2018
Location: Ottawa, ON
Venue: Horticulture Building Lansdowne Park
1525 Princess Patricia Way

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 about how the Smart Agri-Food Super Cluster will address the issues of rural connectivity and foster digital innovation on the “smart farm” of the future.

This day highlighted our “Smart Farm” approach through three Case Studies featuring a variety of companies and experts. After each case study there was an opportunity to share about the case study and contribute suggestions as to how SASC can build on these examples.

Afterwards, a panel of farmers and agronomists commented on how the case studies presented could impact their businesses and the entire Canadian Agricultural Sector.

Hosted By:

Jan Harder Councillor, City of Ottawa / SASC Transition Board
Stuart Cullum President, Olds College / SASC Transition Board
Robert Saik Founder AGRI-TREND-Trimble / SASC Transition Board
Rob Davis Interim CEO, SASC Transition Board

January 16, 2018 Agenda

9:30 – 9:35WelcomeJan Harder
9:35 – 9:50Why the Smart Agri-Food Super Cluster?
Participants learned about our community and node approach for fostering agriculture growth.
Rob Davies - SASC CEO
9:50 – 10:05Agriculture 5.0 – Convergence on the FarmRobert Saik - Agri-Trend MC
10:05 – 10:15A Farm in the City
The Smart Agri-Food Super Cluster is designed to support “nodes” of agriculture innovation across Canada. Jan Harder showcased how the City of Ottawa sees their role in SASC.
Jan Harder - Councillor City of Ottawa
10:15 – 11:00 (Case Study #1)What happens when we connect the farm?

It is hard to imagine a “smart farm” if it cannot be connected to the internet. (According to the April 2017, AAFC Analysis of Precision Agriculture Adoption & Barriers in western Canada, 52% of farmers are somewhat or extremely dissatisfied with their internet connections). In this case study, companies shared ideas on how they could connect the farm and what happens when that connecting happens.

Zedi (James Freeman) WIN (Ian Nichols), Intelliconn (Ken Jackson) Telus (Michael Dittrich) In field sensors -> tied to weather -> to farm mesh -> connected to high speed

Facilitator Robert Saik | Panelists
11:00 – 11:15Audience – Shared thoughts on what rural connectivity would mean to Canadian Agriculture. See key learnings below.
11:15 – 12:00 (Case Study #2)How could machine learning help to connect the farm to the fork?
Organizations talked about the potential of combining agricultural data with machine learning science to increase our ability to manage the vast amounts of data generated from a smart farm and showed how this will increase transparency to the consumer. Stream (John Murphy), Farm Lead (Alain Goubau), Microsoft (John Weigelt), Spectroscopy -> grain attributes -> data -> consumer
Facilitator Robert Saik | Panelists
12:00 – 12:15Audience – Shared their impression of these how these technologies could impact farm and environmental sustainability. See key learnings below.
12:15 – 1:00Lunch and Networking
1:00 – 1:45 (Case Study #3)Leveraging analytics/data to sustainably increase farm productivity?

In this case study companies will share emerging technologies that will change the way we measure the farm. We will showcase how rapid (real-time) access to data will change the decision making process and how this information will help farmers increase profitability while simultaneously reducing our agricultural footprint on the environment

A&L (Dr George Lazarovits), The Rack / Ultimate Yield Management Institute (Dennis Bulani), GPS Ontario (Jordan Wallace), Agrium 4- R (Michelle Nutting) Soil Health -> Precision Agronomy -> Machines -> 4R sustainability

Facilitator Robert Saik | Panelists
1:45 – 2:00Audience – What are your thoughts on how agriculture can leverage technology to create greater confidence in the Canadian Food System?
1:55 – 2:50Farmer/Agronomist Panel

Three farmer/agronomists will be asked to share their thoughts on how the case studies could impact their businesses.

Kyle O’Donohue Ontario Farmer/Agronomist, Shelley Spruit, Against the Grains Farms, Stuart Adams, Mark Brock - Shepherd Creek Farms Ltd. ,

(NOTE: none of the farm panelists will have seen the case studies prior to this event, so we are looking for their live, take-home thoughts and impressions.)

Facilitator Robert Saik | Panelists
2:50 – 3:00Smart Agri-Food Super Cluster – Closing Message

From the farm to the city – from the city to the farm…Stuart Cullum will wrap up the day with a vision how SASC will connect agriculture innovation across the nation.

Stuart Cullum President - Olds College

Digital/Connectivity Community - Ottawa, January 16, 2018

Discussion Highlights

Your thoughts on what rural connectivity would mean to Canadian Agriculture.

  • Increased connectivity is needed; access and speed are not where we need them to be.
    • If I can get access to information and analysis instantly, this can improve productivity

  • Talk is nice, but what is being proposed right now? What can we see quickly?

  • Cellular and wired internet are low bandwidth and not reliable
    • Can this be provided at a rate that is affordable?

  • I can move information around on my farm, but as soon as I need to send it anywhere, I have no speed.
  • With resolutions increasing, UAVs can get a lot more data, a lot more specific data.
    • This data needs to get transmitted places for analysis, and cannot be used real-time yet.

What is your impression of these how these technologies could impact farm and environmental sustainability?

  • These technologies can do a lot to:
    • Reduce input costs.

    • Reduce planting and grow time.

    • Reduce effort per hectare.

  • Reduced inputs will result in less runoff and concerns about mitigation.

  • Impact of reduced environmental impact needs to be recognized by government.
    • Ability to track specific inputs and outputs will help this tremendously.

  • All of the improvements and data tracking can improve yields and improve net revenue.

What are your thoughts on how agriculture can leverage technology to create greater confidence in the Canadian Food System?

  • Better traceability from producer to distributor to consumer.
    • Will improve our ability to find problem points in distribution.

  • Increased food security.

  • Will be able to reduce, to a point, the impact of climate change.
    • Stabilizing price and supply of food.

  • Will be able to use these systems and technologies to promote best practices and filter out non-effective technologies and techniques.

  • Will be able to demonstrate how farms work, what we do to improve things, and encourage more farmers to farm and companies to invest.

Four farmer/agronomists were asked to share their thoughts on how the case studies could impact their businesses.

  • Consumer/purchaser not always connected to the farm.

  • Need to educate the consumer to understand that farmers are good land stewards, not overusing fertilizers as an example, as this affects the land and the growers bottom line.

  • Some consumers are driving a high-end product (non-GMO, gluten free, organic, etc.). If this can be tracked we may be able to develop two distinct markets, a lower end commodity versus high-end. If we can validate growing practices, higher quality products could potentially yield more money for the farmer.

  • Need for traceability abroad. Recently, China has turned down Canadian soy product due to growing concerns.

  • The farm could serve as the gateway for connectivity. One farm could include infrastructure to support other nearby farms. Could be a revenue-generating scheme for farmer.

  • Farmers are using technology and have made tremendous gains including increased yields and reduced inputs. Technology is making the sector less farmer-intensive. Freeing up the farmer to do other activities.

  • Technology is abundant, pricey and often proprietary. The technologies do not often work together. Need an easier solution.

  • In the future, each farm will need technology support. May need academic program to train students in digital farming.

  • Need to incentivize sharing, open use of data.