Olds College has launched Smart Farm, a new initiative it says that will see the college transform its existing operation into a farm of the future by incorporating the latest technologies.
Those technologies are 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,” said Olds College president Stuart Cullum in a statement.
The multimillion-dollar project will be implemented in phases as it solidifies partnerships with the public and private sectors.
The college said the first phase 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.
Respected business writer Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald in various capacities, including 12 years as a senior business writer.
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