USask and SaskTel partner for agtech lab at LFCE
By Top Crop Manager
Yesterday, SaskTel and the University of Saskatchewan announced that they are partnering to launch a “living laboratory” at the university’s Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence (LFCE) to test, develop and demonstrate world-class agricultural technologies.
Through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), SaskTel and the University of Saskatchewan will focus on “smart farming” research and innovation to accelerate transformation in Saskatchewan’s agriculture industry. Smart farming involves collecting and analyzing “big data” so that producers can make informed and sustainable farm management decisions that improve productivity.
This initiative – driven by engineering, agriculture and computer science researchers – will focus on conducting research, improving education around smart farming, and testing and validating new agtech ideas and solutions.
The LFCE would be the first research smart farm in Canada focused on maximizing efficiency in livestock operations through the latest Internet of Things-based technology in an interconnected wireless environment.
“We are excited to partner with SaskTel to help producers advance livestock farming to the next level through use of some of the world’s best digital agricultural technologies – from drones equipped with software, to sensors that can monitor herds and their health,” said Karen Chad, vice-president of research at the University of Saskatchewan. “This cutting-edge research will help meet the world’s increasing food demands, while enhancing training of our students in the latest high-tech farming techniques.”
Terry Fonstad, associate dean of research and partnerships with the the University of Saskatchewan College of Engineering, said the MOU underscores the commitment LFCE has made to livestock producer groups to serve as a powerhouse for innovative research and teaching that will improve livestock production in Canada and around the world.
“The MOU brings together new knowledge and applied research at USask in areas of strength in engineering, agriculture and computer science with the infrastructure and expertise at SaskTel to advance agriculture,” Fonstad said.
SaskTel and the University of Saskatchewan will invite key stakeholders in the agriculture industry, including agtech startups, to identify challenges, propose solutions and initiate projects to test and validate these solutions at the LFCE.
“SaskTel is continually working to grow and innovate as a company. As there is a need for increased data-based decision-making and farm-wide wireless connectivity, this agreement presents a perfect opportunity for SaskTel to lend its expertise,” said SaskTel president and CEO Doug Burnett.
Burnett said this collaboration presents an opportunity to bring SaskTel and the University of Saskatchewan together to forge a path to the smart farm of the future, noting the need is there to make the future of agribusiness sustainable in Saskatchewan.
“With modern agricultural technology improving and evolving at an ever-increasing rate, the opportunity to work together will support decision-making and drive innovation into the foreseeable future,” he said.