Head in the clouds, feet in the soil­— smart farms provide fertile ground to grow innovation and connection in agriculture technology.  While much of today’s agtech is developed in a lab, it doesn’t stay there for long. Smart farms provide a live environment where developers can get their hands dirty, and farmers can put new technology to the test.

Advancements in data and digital technologies are enabling the evolution of agriculture and food systems, making them more resilient, more productive, and more sustainable. Data collected at the farm-level aids in informing producer decisions and can improve profit. By 2050, the average farm is expected to generate four million data points every day.

Technology developed strictly in a lab environment can be ill-equipped to deal with farm conditions, from adverse weather to uneven ground.

Smart farm networks bridge this gap by providing real-world testing grounds that integrate technological advancements directly into agricultural practices. These networks also promote the open sharing of information between farmers around the globe, which helps farms replicate successful results achieved elsewhere and avoid common mistakes. This approach ensures that solutions are tailored to the specific challenges and environments of farms, fostering innovation that supports enhanced farm productivity and sustainability.

Alberta Innovates fosters collaboration and partnership between farmers and technology developers, preparing the ground for future innovation. Being able to generate data in a smart farm environment is one matter but making that data an accessible tool that farmers can use in the field is another. This is why many of the early-stage technologies we fund are first tested at smart farms before heading to market.

That’s why we’re investing in technologies that will help use this data and turn it into intelligence. Better decision making is the promise of the digital revolution, and better decisions means lowering transaction costs, reducing inefficiencies, and ensuring all parties have access to the information they need.

This work cannot happen without strong partnerships, and one of our key partners is Olds College, who we’ve worked with over many years and many projects.

Alberta Innovates is a long-term supporter of the Olds College Smart Farm, part of the Canadian Agri-food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN)’s network of smart farms across Canada. Members of our Agriculture and Food Innovation team are part of an early-stage project developing an international smart farm network across Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.  

Learn more about the role smart farms play in the implementation of digital solutions in a panel session from this year’s Inventures Conference on our Unbound platform.