olds college smart farm

Smart Farms: A Validation & Demonstration Tool

CAAIN is supporting the development of a nationwide network of smart farms. Simply put, smart farms are where the latest agricultural knowledge and technology can be validated, demonstrated to producers, and used as a teaching tool for the next generation of farmers who will then know from first-hand experience how certain technologies can impact agriculture.

Imagine the challenge of farmers who want to explore technological opportunities but are unsure how to proceed without incurring major financial risk. Now imagine a facility that incorporates the advanced tools the producers are considering—GPS, real-time soil, pest, and disease monitoring, data analysis, and autonomous machinery. Such an operation offers producers real-world demonstrations of technology, thereby significantly mitigating the risk associated with its adoption.

The smart farm projects of we support tend—but aren’t required—to involve post-secondary institutions. This is by design. Tomorrow’s producers must graduate from colleges and universities with an appreciation of, and comfort with, technology, as well as expertise in agriculture. That dual stream requires hands-on learning, and smart farms provide that opportunity.

CAAIN’s Definition of Smart Farms

Specifically, we define smart farms as being agricultural facilities where the latest knowledge and/or technology are evaluated in a relevant environment to determine their ability to improve productivity and profitability. To be considered for CAAIN funding, a smart farm and its operator must meet the following criteria:

  • Be operating a Canadian smart farm focused on the production of a recognized agri-food product, such as
    • Broad-acre crops
    • Horticulture
    • Livestock
  • Be interested in, and capable of, empirically validating the use of the latest knowledge and emerging technology, including an assessment of potential economic value
  • Be interested in, and capable of, demonstrating the latest knowledge and emerging technology to Canadian agricultural communities
  • Provide learning opportunities contributing to the development of a skilled workforce
  • Be willing to be part of, and collaborate with, a growing nationwide network of smart farms managed by CAAIN
  • Have, or have available as a partner or employee, the knowledge and skills necessary to evaluate and report on the economic, social, and/or environmental benefits provided by the technology or knowledge.
  • Commit to providing high-quality, verifiable data supporting the eventual adoption or rejection of the technology being evaluated
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