The Agriculture Financial Services Corporation will now provide support for the Olds College Smart Farm.
In an announcement Tuesday, Olds College said the two organizations reached a memorandum of understanding for the AFSC to provide support for applied research activities on the Olds College Smart Farm that will drive innovation in agriculture.
“AFSC has a distinguished history in supporting and building Alberta’s agriculture sector, and Olds College is delighted to formally partner with AFSC as we work together on industry-driven applied research,” said Patrick Machaeck, Vice President, Development & Strategy, Olds College.
“Our Smart Ag Ecosystem is a fundamental asset for industry, researchers, faculty, and students, to develop and integrate technology and best practice. The Smart Farm gives us the opportunity to work closely with AFSC to provide technical solutions and training opportunities for the agriculture and agri-food industry — and develop solutions to real-world, everyday agricultural challenges.”
The MOU was announced during AgSmart 2022 on Olds College Campus. The MOU covers a five-year period and will be governed by a partnership committee of representatives from both Olds College and AFSC.
According to the release, the Smart Farm provides AFSC with boots-on-the-ground testing and learnings for technologies and practices that could help producers in real agriculture settings.
Some of that research has already been put into practice. The Olds College research team provided AFSC with a proof of concept last year, for using drone footage to see if it can help assess hail-damaged fields.
“Our growing partnership with Olds College continues to benefit producers, our clients and the agri-food industry in Alberta,” said Darryl Kay, Chief Executive Officer, AFSC.
“The joint applied research initiatives we’ll be undertaking over the next five years will advance knowledge and work to improve data collection and analysis, sensor testing and validation, automation technologies, field trials, and risk management. We look forward to the road ahead — and discovering ways we can use digital technologies, automation, and ag tech equipment to benefit the agriculture industry in Alberta.”
Olds College and AFSC are already collaborating on three new projects in 2022: Hail Damage Classification Using Drones, Analyzing Soil Moisture Probe Measurements for Moisture Deficiency, and Exploring Soil Moisture, Weather and Forage Biomass Relationships.
In the 2022 growing season, the College research team is visiting fields after hailstorms occur to see if high-definition imaging from drones can be used to classify hail-damaged areas within crop fields. Researchers will create a database of hail-damaged crops imagery and see if this could assist ASFC adjusters in the assessment process.
The College is also conducting research to determine if soil moisture measurements captured by soil sensing probes can be used in the estimations of forage yield potential.