Driven by a vision to accelerate the development and adoption of agricultural technologies across Canada, the Pan-Canadian Smart Farm Network brings together expertise and data to create a robust platform for knowledge transfer and technological evolution.
Launched by Olds College in Alberta in 2021, the network includes Lakeland College in Alberta, Glacier Discovery Farm in Saskatchewan, and more. The latest addition, Lethbridge College, marks a notable expansion for the network.
Supported by a contribution of $1.1 million from the Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network, the Pan-Canadian Smart Farm Network is a $3.4 million initiative that underlines the importance of integrating technology with agriculture. The goal is simple but impactful: to use technology to help producers manage risk, enhance productivity, and ensure the sustainability of their farms.
Lethbridge College’s recent entry into the Pan-Canadian Smart Farm Network has added a layer to Alberta’s role within the network and broadened the scope of research and practices within the collaboration. The college’s focus on irrigation studies is of particular interest, given the increasing emphasis on water management.
“The expertise they bring and the added infrastructure and perspective and regionality of the type of work they do just adds a ton of value to the overall network and what we’re trying to do with accelerating the development and adoption of ag tech and practices,” Dr. Joy Agnew, vice-president of research at Olds College, informed CTV News Lethbridge.
The network’s initial focus lies in evaluating sensor connectivity, assessing and validating crops, and soil data collection.
The importance of this network within the Canadian agricultural landscape cannot be overstated. The diversity of Canada’s ecological zones demands a comprehensive approach to agricultural technology. A tool that proves beneficial in Nova Scotia may have a different application in Alberta.
“We’re looking for opportunities to connect with international smart farms and network-like entities that already exist just to really broaden that horizon and broaden the connections,” Agnew told CTV.
The Pan-Canadian Smart Farm Network is set to play a pivotal role in the advancement of Canadian agriculture. Moving forward, Olds College and its partners aim to expand their reach, hoping to extend their expertise and influence from coast to coast, even eyeing International connections.
Other organizations involved in the network include the Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence, Beef & Forage Initiatives, and the Enterprise Machine Intelligence & Learning Initiative.