Project aims to reduce input application passes

By pulling together data from different sources, farmers should be able to decrease fuel and use inputs more efficiently. The information can be gathered into a package to provide traceability from farmers to consumers. | File photo

Protein Industries Canada funds research initiated by a private consortium that looks to increase on-farm efficiencies

A $9.25 million project designed to improve farmer efficiency and profitability is being tested on a Saskatchewan farm this year.

A consortium of Calgary companies, Provision Analytics, Verge Technologies and Skymatics as well as Coutts Agro of Kindersley, Sask., will invest $4.6 million in the project with the rest coming from Protein Industries Canada.

Verge Technologies and Skymatics use digital mapping to help farmers improve field operations by capturing information about inputs, fuel use and other activities. Coutts Agro is about 100,000 acres and grows grains and oilseeds.

“It is about improving on-farm efficiency by utilizing technology to reduce the number of passes that producers are making on farm,” said Bill Greuel, chief executive officer of Protein Industries Canada, based in Regina.

By pulling together data from different sources, farmers should be able to decrease fuel and use inputs more efficiently. The information can be gathered into a package to provide traceability from farmers to consumers.

The data should show where more efficiencies could be gained and that could reduce costs on the farm, said Ian Coutts.

“It does not limit the use of input products but its correct use,” he said.

This should change the message to consumers who think only organic production is healthy.

“We are building trust with the consumer to show them we are applying products in a timely fashion as needed. It will change the message. We have to measure that efficiency,” he said.

Consumers don’t need to know specifics but they do want to know the food was produced in a safe and sustainable way without wasting water or overusing fertilizers or herbicides, for example.

Information gathered from the project could provide complete information on a bottle of beer or a plant-based burger, starting with the type of seed used, planting dates, products used and interval to harvest.

Similar concepts have been tried elsewhere but this marks the first large-scale project of this type for Western Canada, said Coutts.

Protein Industries Canada is a not-for-profit organization working with private sector industry partners to invest in technology for agriculture and food production.

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