Smart Agriculture and Food Digitalization and Automation Challenge

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Increasing agri-food production to feed the world

Agriculture plays a pivotal role around the globe, delivering nourishment, contributing to economic growth and trade, and providing livelihoods for billions of people. But food systems are strained by the need to feed a growing global population while also adapting to shifting consumer demands, changing regulations and environmental concerns.

As a key contributor to Canada’s agri-food industry, Alberta can have a tremendous impact by sustainably increasing agri-food production through the development and application of innovative technologies.

The Smart Agriculture and Food Digitalization and Automation Challenge (SAFDAC) supported projects to develop or advance smart technologies to increase productivity, reduce production costs or increase the value of Alberta’s agri-food commodities. Funding was provided to projects that provide solutions to challenges faced by the province’s agri-food sector and which clearly demonstrate social, economic and environmental benefits.

Smart technologies in this program included innovation opportunities:

  • Digital transformation of the agri-food sector.
  • Autonomous systems throughout the agri-food value chain.
  • Development and validation of new smart technologies and solutions.

SAFDAC is now closed to applications. As of June 2022, Agri-Food Innovation and Bioindustrial Innovation have launched a joint continuous intake funding initiative, the Agri-Food and Bioindustrial Innovation Program (ABIP).

Funded projects

SAFDAC 2021-2022 Funded Projects

SAFDAC’s final competition was held in 2021-22. The funded projects were announced May 26, 2022. Ten research projects received a total of $3.19 million for innovations in the development and application of smart technologies in agri-food production.

Key 2021-22 SAFDAC information:

  • 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.

2021-2022 SAFDAC Funded Projects


Project Title



Kurtis Broda

Development of a hyperspectral deployable optics camera to enable cost-effective and continuous agricultural insights from space

Wyvern Incorporated


Manuel Juarez

Augmented reality for pork primal classification based on quality attributes

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada


Owen Kinch

A.I. Data Recording Kit which Enables Autonomous Farm Machinery

Mojow Autonomous Solutions Inc.



Developing Robotic Approaches to Enhance Beef Carcass Grading

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada


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


Susan Markus

Smart handheld device for automatic blood analysis: Innovative prediction of sheep pregnancy and litter size

Lakeland College


Yuri Montanholi

Optimization of non-contact sensing technologies to enhance sustainability of bison farming

Lakeland College


Vincent Pawluski

Remote Control (RC) Farm Arm

Pawlutions Ltd.


Reza Sabbagh

Automation of Linear Type Trait Scoring Practice for Dairy Industry

iClassifier Inc.


Jason Bradley

Mapping & validating soil-based carbon through automated use of Mobile Inelastic Neutron Scattering technologies to incent regenerative agriculture

Carbon Asset Solutions Ltd.






SAFDAC 2020-2021 Funded Projects

SAFDAC’s 2020-21 round of funding launched in July 2020 and closed September 14, 2020. Eight projects were selected to share a combined $3 million in funding from Alberta Innovates. Projects were selected through Alberta Innovates’ competitive review process and funding is being distributed on a milestone basis reflecting the progress of each project until completion.

Key 2020-21 SAFDAC information:

  • 49 Expressions of Interest were received requesting a total of $20 million for projects worth $42 million.
  • 12 applicants were invited to submit a full proposal
  • 8 projects, at a total value of more than $10.7 million, were selected to receive grants of between $39,510 and $500,000, totaling a combined $3 million in funding.

2020-2021 SAFDAC Funded Projects

Dr. Edward Bork

Using emergent technologies to pursue precision ranching of livestock on western rangelands

University of Alberta


Ms. Si Dingani

Practice Manager

Provision Analytics Inc.


Dr. Godard

An interactive farm operation planning software

Verge Technologies Inc.


Dr. David Gust

Rural fibre optic broadband network design and self-install drops

Valo Networks Ltd.


Dr. Amina Hussein

Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy for in-situ soil analysis

University of Alberta



Dr. Graham Plastow

An analytic app for arm-chair ranching

University of Alberta


Dr. Chandra Singh

Development of wireless monitoring and automated aeration control system for storing sugar beets in outdoor piles

Lethbridge College


Dr. Brad White

Development and validation of remote early disease identification (REDI) system for field application in commercial beef feedlot and backgrounding operations

Precision Animal Solutions, LLC.





TOTAL $3,033,294