Autonomous farm equipment on the Olds College’s Smart Farm
(Photo contributed)

Olds College partners with SaskTel on Saskatchewan Smart Farm

Olds College of Agriculture and Technology is partnering with SaskTel to work on solving some of the largest challenges currently facing agriculture technology, including rural connectivity.

The two organizations announced they have signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday. The collaboration will leverage the 800 acres Olds College Saskatchewan Smart Farm to advance and accelerate ag tech development, and innovation for producers, learners and agri-food companies across Saskatchewan through applied research, technology demonstration, data utilization and commercial-scale validation.

“We are delighted to partner with SaskTel, a leader in connectivity, Internet of Things and customer service in Saskatchewan,” said Patrick Machacek, Olds College vice-president of development and Strategy.

“With the recent expansion of the Olds College Smart Farm into Saskatchewan, we are continuing to expand and build a smart ag ecosystem that is focused on driving innovation for western Canada’s ag sector.”

Olds College of Agriculture and Technology is home to Canada’s first Smart Farm. This year, the post-secondary institution expanded Smart Farm operations into Saskatchewan thanks to a gift of 800 acres of land west of Craik, Sask., from Margery Steckler and her late husband, George Steckler.

Doug Burnett, SaskTel president and CEO, said the project will further expand SaskTel’s role in “helping to develop, test, and facilitate the wider adoption of innovative new ag technologies that will enable producers to modernize their operations and keep pace with the growing demand for sustainable and trusted food sources.”

The Olds College Smart Farm is described as a cutting-edge learning environment that has grown to include 3,600 acres of farmland, infrastructure and staff who are experienced in ag tech research and development.

The farm is essentially a giant lab that provides the agriculture sector a venue for commercial scale applied research and is attracting investment and engagement from companies ranging from multi-national ag and tech companies to SMEs, Olds College said in a release.

The principles guiding the development and operation of the Olds College Smart Farm are intended to be centred around engaging producers and industry on addressing real-world problems by utilizing and integrating technology and data. The Smart Farm is also focused on teaching students how to integrate, manage and leverage ag technology for the enhancement and sustainability of agri-food production, said the institution.

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