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Olds College, USask sign ag tech research collaboration deal

Five-year collaboration deal will be overseen by a committee representing both institutions
MVT Olds College front building
Olds College and the University of Saskatchewan have signed a memorandum of understanding that covers a five-year period. File photo/MVP Staff

OLDS — Representatives of Olds College and the University of Saskatchewan (USask) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate on activities regarding automation and incorporating greater digital data in agriculture. 

The MOU initially covers a five-year period and will be governed by a joint committee of representatives from both institutions. It was signed during the Canadian Western Agribition agricultural exhibition in Regina. 

One of the first areas of collaboration will be supporting livestock research by connecting the college’s Technology Access Centre for Livestock Production with the USask Livestock Forage Centre of Excellence. 

Officials at the two post-secondary institutions say agricultural technology can play a big role in helping maintain Canada’s place as a global leader. They believe by combining their strengths, they can drive that innovation.  

They say areas that could benefit from working together include sensors and sensing, data transfer and security, data analytics, and artificial intelligence and controls to support the growing technical shift in agricultural production.  

Olds College contains Canada’s first Smart Farm; a 2,800-acre interconnected environment that leverages the college’s agriculture operations and applied research programming. 

One of its main purposes is to provide a product development and demonstration venue to accelerate agriculture technology and agri-food development.  

USask is home to the Global Institute for Food Security, the Global Institute for Water Security and the Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence, as well as the College of Engineering, and the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, which have been catalysts of many agricultural innovations. 

“Olds College and University of Saskatchewan have long histories of being catalysts of innovation in the agriculture industry,” Olds College associate vice-president of applied research, Joy Agnew said in a news release. 

“With the MOU in place, we look forward to working closely with USask to continue to provide technical solutions and training opportunities for the agriculture and agri-food industry.”  

Terry Fonstad, associate dean, Research and Partnerships at the USask College of Engineering saw advantages to the collaboration as well. 

“With this agreement, our intention is to come together and build on our respective strengths, so we can provide the technology that the agricultural sector needs, whether it’s helping farmers increase production or supporting beef producers to better care for their animals and the environment,” he said in the news release.