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Home > About > News > Learn how Alberta is innovating in agriculture & forestry
November 25, 2023
Alberta Innovates supports and highlights innovation across Alberta.
Here are some of our favourite stories of agriculture and forestry innovation from the last few years.
Food safety is essential for businesses that produce, prepare, or serve food. Provision Analytics is one of Alberta’s fastest growing start-ups and is helping food producers around the world to track food safety data, making it easier to trace the source of an outbreak in the event of a recall.
Provision Analytics’s software allows food processors and manufacturers to automate their food safety processes. They are now creating “Practice Manager,” a software extension that will enable food safety consultants and their clients to develop plans, records, and procedures remotely.
Practice Manager digitizes traditional paper-based systems. This allows for the majority of the food safety and quality pre-check audits to be performed remotely saving the business and the consultant time and money.
This project is part of Alberta Innovates’ Smart Agriculture and Food Digitization and Automation Challenge.
The Corteva corn research program helped expand the growing adaption area for corn in Alberta, making it a more viable crop option across a broader geographical area that saw an increase of 115,000 corn acres planted in Alberta.
End-users that can benefit from an increased local corn supply include the ethanol industry, dry and wet milling operations, farm equipment suppliers and fertilizer suppliers.
Alberta Innovates invested $1 million in the research program, while Corteva Agri-science contributed $6.5 million. The program resulted in the commercialization of 19 new hybrids through local breeding and characterization efforts.
Over 100 university and casual staff were hired over five summers to help execute the research program.
The Corteva corn research program resulted in more locally produced grain corn with premium feed value, reduced imports, and improved economics of Alberta hog and beef cattle farming.
Bovine respiratory disease (BRD) is one of the largest health challenges facing post-weaned beef calves and early, accurate disease diagnosis is critical for animal welfare and appropriate use of antimicrobials.
The Remote Early Disease Identification (REDI) system uses individual animal behaviours to remotely identify BRD and has been shown to increase diagnostic accuracy compared to a visual observer. The data required for the REDI system, however, must be robust and fit into the cattle operations for widespread adoption of this technology.
Precision Animal Solutions and Dr. Brad White are working with industry collaborators to develop hardware systems that will enable REDI in commercial feedlots, ultimately improving animal welfare, reducing unnecessary antibiotic use, and reducing costs to both industry and consumers.
This project was part of Alberta Innovates’ Smart Agriculture and Food Digitization and Automation Challenge.
Valo’s Rural fiber optic broadband network design and self-install drops consists of two steps:
This product will significantly reduce installation costs, thereby reducing the barriers for connecting the rural population to broadband services. This product has particular benefit to farmers. As the use of digital and wi-fi enabled farming tools grows, so does the need for reliable, on-farm internet access. A hard-wire cable connection will enable the farmer to fully utilize the many other technological advancements in agriculture, including equipment connectivity and automation.
Carbon nanofiber is 40 times stronger and four times lighter than steel. That’s impressive on its own, but Carbonova is taking it one step further by producing carbon nanofiber out of carbon dioxide and methane. In Carbonova’s lab in Calgary, carbon dioxide and methane are fed into a chamber that produces carbon fibre in less than a minute. Carbon nanofibres can replace steel and aluminum, enhance rubber, and be used in lubricants, electronic devices, and in inks and coatings. They can also be used in agriculture as they can absorb essential micronutrients and release them slowly into the soil.
Carbonova owns the proprietary process and catalysts formulation and is on track to building the first large scale commercial carbon nanofibers unit in Canada.
Sugar beets may not be one of Alberta’s most well-known crops, but they’re an increasingly important one for the province. Sugar beets in Southern Alberta contribute $32.2 million in farm receipts annually and are the sole source of 100 percent Canadian sugar.
The beets are typically stored outdoors in bulk piles over the winter before being processed at the Lantic factory in Taber. While beets are generally hardy, freeze and thaw cycles or insufficient ventilation can damage the crop and lead to significant sucrose losses, rendering them unusable.
Dr. Chandra Singh and his team at Lethbridge College are developing a remote wireless monitoring system for beet storage, which will allow for continuous temperature monitoring and efficient aeration. Once implemented, the system will enable producers to mitigate damage to their stored produce and ensure their suitability for refining in the spring.
Taking care of Alberta’s natural environment is critical to the health of the province’s communities and economy. From the boreal forest in the north to the grasslands in the south, the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute (ABMI) measures and track changes in Alberta’s wildlife and their habitats. Employing a systematic grid of 1,656 site locations, spaced 20 km apart, ABMI collects biodiversity information on over 2,500 species. Through measuring and sharing information about the complex relationship between these species, ecosystems, and the genetic make-up of each of these living beings, they seek to influence strong environmental stewardship on the part of Albertans and its land-use decision makers. The scale and depth of the ABMI’s monitoring program make it a unique program nationally and a leader internationally.
AMBI’s mission is to support natural resource decision-making by providing relevant, timely, and credible scientific information on the state of Alberta’s environment.
Big data and digital technologies are transforming many aspects of the agri-food sector. However, the beef industry has been slow to adopt these innovations, contributing to stagnant revenue growth. Dr. Graham Plastow and his team at the University of Alberta are creating an “Arm-Chair Rancher” mobile app that will use machine learning to integrate and compare data across various Alberta beef and agriculture farms and management agencies. This data will be combined with local market, weather, pasture assessment, and climate data to provide real-time guidance and facilitate specific precision herd management decisions throughout the year for the user’s herd, location, and available resources. Arm-Chair Rancher will allow beef farmers to maximize the sustainability, efficiency, and profitability of their operations while at the same time minimizing overhead and labor costs.
The climate emergency will take innovation and vision to solve. Wild + Pine, located in Edmonton, is leading the way, helping businesses reduce carbon emissions while improving regional biodiversity. The company’s main activity is planting trees and creating biodiverse habitats, but they’re also growing seedlings in vertical greenhouses and ensuring people can use technology to monitor and measure forest inventory virtually. In partnership with Natural Resources Canada and Switch Engineering, Wild + Pine Sustainability has also developed a way to stabilize and degrade aircraft de-icing fluid, so it doesn’t produce methane.
Wild + Pine Sustainability is a Certified B Corporation, which signifies a commitment to balancing purpose and profit throughout the organization.
A life-long farmer, Darcy Goosen started to notice that as farming equipment and tires grew larger, safety was becoming a concern – particularly when changing out large tires on sprayers. Over several years, he built multiple prototypes to address this problem until he successfully created a unit that could change large-scale tires safer, faster, and more efficiently. After his friends and family encouraged him to sell his invention, he founded The TireGrabber Ltd. Formed using QT 100 strong, memory-shape steel, the TireGrabber attaches to any hydraulic system and secures tires up to 4,000 pounds and 95 inches in diameter. Today, the company offers several models in addition to the TG Equipment Jack, all designed with the goal of increasing farm safety and efficiency while reducing costs.
The TireGrabber won two consecutive first place awards in Farm Safety at the Manitoba AG Days Innovations Showcase in 2020 and 2021.