EDMONTON, ALBERTA, May 26, 2022 – What if you could use a smart handheld device to help you determine when your sheep are pregnant and predict their litter size? Or, what if you could use machine learning to analyze the health of soil conditions so that you could manage inputs like fertilizers, herbicides and fungicides. And, what if you could make farm machinery safer to operate by using remote control? These are just three of ten projects funded by Alberta Innovates’ Smart Agriculture and Food Digitalization and Automation Challenge (SAFDAC) program.

These research projects, combined with seven more, have been approved in the latest round of SAFDAC funding. Ten research programs will share $3.19 million, looking at the frontiers of farming, agriculture and food production. Other successful projects range from using sensors on bison herds to manage their health and welfare, to examining ways to use artificial intelligence to manage your autonomous machinery.

SAFDAC supports projects to develop or advance smart technologies to increase productivity, reduce production costs or increase the value of Alberta’s agri-food commodities. It does this by looking for innovations that:

  • Develop new applications for digitalization of the agri-food sector,
  • Create autonomous systems and prototype development to reduce costs and improve quality and safety of agriculture and food products,
  • Develop and validate new smart technologies and solutions to reduce the impact of stress to plants and animals – and increase farm productivity and food-supply chain functionality.


“Alberta is already a global leader in agriculture innovation, providing high-quality agricultural products to meet the global demand for food. This investment will not only support innovative made-in-Alberta solutions to address challenges in the agri-food industry, but will also increase the sector’s competitiveness on the global stage, helping to increase exports and attract future investment to the province. Further advancements in agricultural technologies will also create even more high-paying jobs for hard working Albertans.”

Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation

“Alberta’s producers have always been on the cutting edge of innovative agricultural practices. This investment exemplifies our leadership in practical solutions for the agri-food industry, and shows our ongoing commitment to sustainable stewardship of our province’s abundant natural resources.”

Nate Horner, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Economic Development

“Feeding a hungry planet is a challenge for the whole world. The technologies and innovations developed right here in Alberta, through the Smart Agriculture and Food Digitalization and Automation Challenge program, will address that challenge head-on. We congratulate all the successful applicants in this year’s competition; and, we can’t wait to see what comes next.”

Laura Kilcrease, CEO, Alberta Innovates

“This funding is helping Wyvern deliver high resolution satellite imaging to the agriculture industry in an affordable and scalable way. This support allows us to work with innovative partners in the ecosystem, capture data on a test farm to evaluate use cases in real time, and is supporting the development of a prototype to further our proprietary deployable optics camera. This funding will further position both Wyvern and Alberta as leaders in smart agriculture solutions, while delivering tangible results to the industry: helping farmers produce more food for less, saving farmers money and reducing agriculture’s impact on the environment.”

Chris Robson, CEO, Wyvern


Key SAFDAC information:

  • SAFDAC’s 2021/22 round of funding launched in July 2021.
  • 50 expressions of interest were received requesting a total of $16.8 million for projects worth $34.4 million.
  • 16 projects were invited to submit a full proposal.
  • Ten projects, at a total value of over $8.6 million, were selected to receive grants of between $145 – $500 thousand, totaling a combined $3.19 million in funding.
Applicant Project Title Institution Amount
Kurtis Broda Development of a hyperspectral deployable optics camera to enable cost-effective and continuous agricultural insights from space Wyvern Incorporated $380,000
Manuel Juarez Augmented reality for pork primal classification based on quality attributes Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada $157,410
Owen Kinch A.I. Data Recording Kit which Enables Autonomous Farm Machinery Mojow Autonomous Solutions Inc. $500,000
Developing Robotic Approaches to Enhance Beef Carcass Grading Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada $245,144
Derek MacKenzie Defining Soil Health in the Digital Age: Using machine learning to predict and assess the impact of agricultural practices on soil health across Alberta University of Alberta $497,000
Susan Markus Smart handheld device for automatic blood analysis: Innovative prediction of sheep pregnancy and litter size Lakeland College $145,000
Yuri Montanholi Optimization of non-contact sensing technologies to enhance sustainability of bison farming Lakeland College $345,081
Vincent Pawluski Remote Control (RC) Farm Arm Pawlutions Ltd. $223,125
Reza Sabbagh Automation of Linear Type Trait Scoring Practice for Dairy Industry iClassifier Inc. $352,600
Jason Bradley Mapping & validating soil-based carbon through automated use of Mobile Inelastic Neutron Scattering technologies to incent regenerative agriculture Carbon Asset Solutions Ltd. $350,000


Alberta Innovates invests in research, innovation and entrepreneurship to drive provincial economic growth and diversity. We ignite the power of innovation through our work with researchers, industry and entrepreneurs to move Alberta to a lower-carbon future, promote the responsible use of land and water, and contribute to the improved health and well-being of Albertans. Alberta Innovates provides technical expertise, entrepreneurial advice and support, opportunities for partnerships, and funding to advance the best ideas. We support a broad range of research and innovation activity – from discovery to use. Collaboration is at the heart of what we do – bringing together bright minds and great ideas.

Learn how Alberta Innovates at


Dwayne Brunner

Senior Manager, Media & Strategic Community Relations