February, 28, 2020, Calgary, Alta. – Federal Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains has announced a new project supported by the Protein Industries Supercluster that will use artificial intelligence tools to make farming more transparent, efficient and profitable.
The data collected by a consortium of agri-food, digital mapping and technology firms aims to reinforce Canada’s reputation as a global supplier of sustainable and traceable food.
Together, they will capture data from farms across western Canada on activities like seeding and fertilizer application and on fuel consumption and the wear and tear of machinery. This data set will support food ingredient traceability and reduce the amount of critical farm inputs such as fuel and seed, making farms more sustainable.
For example, the project is expected to help cereal producers know if the oats they use have been treated with undesirable herbicides, a key consideration for many consumers.
Similarly, canola producers can back up their sustainable agriculture claim by pointing to data showing a smaller carbon footprint from lower fuel consumption and eco-friendly tilling practices.
“The Protein Industries Supercluster project is showing the way for increased collaboration between SMEs by bringing together partners from across the agriculture value chain,” Bains said in a press release. “Both Canadian consumers and farmers will benefit from reliable farm-level data that can support Canada’s reputation as a supplier of traceable food ingredients and a champion of sustainable farming practices.”
Bill Greuel, CEO, Protein Industries Canada, said the project is truly ground-breaking for the Canadian agriculture and food sector, ensuring that Canada’s reputation as a safe and reliable supplier of healthy, sustainably-produced food is protected.
“The collaboration and scope of this project, from on-farm through to processing, captures the spirit of the supercluster. By bringing together partners from across the value chain, the project will improve the traceability of our agri-food products across the chain of custody and provide metrics for sustainability initiatives.”
The project represents a total investment of up to $9.2 million, including up to $4.6 million from the federal government’s Innovation Superclusters Initiative and $4.6 million in contributions from industry and academia.
Under an agreement signed with Protein Industries Canada, the federal government is investing up to nearly $153 million in the supercluster, with industry expected to match that dollar-for-dollar in project value over a five-year horizon.
The Protein Industries Supercluster is expected to create more than 4,500 jobs and add more than $4.5 billion to Canada’s economy over 10 years.
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