OLDS - The Olds College Smart Farm has received a $1 million investment from recently-formed TELUS Agriculture in support of the development and integration of information sharing technology used by farmers and producers, officials said.
Under the investment agreement, the Smart Farm receives $500,000 in cash and $500,000 in-kind over five years.
The investment will allow TELUS Agriculture to use the 1,800 acre Smart Farm as a laboratory to conduct applied research and test applications of new technology in a commercial-scale agriculture setting.
TELUS actually started using the Smart Farm to test innovations such as security solutions, weather stations, and field sensors in live conditions in February 2019.
The TELUS Agriculture business unit itself was officially launched in November 2020 to further support agriculture with connected technology.
The new TELUS Agriculture-Smart Farm collaboration will enable live condition testing for TELUS’ 5G network, which officials say has the potential to enable faster, more reliable connections.
The collaboration will also allow for the testing of ways to address rural connectivity issues using a low connectivity area on one of the Smart Farm properties outside Carstairs.
“Partnerships like these provide us with a unique opportunity make a significant impact on the advancement the agri-food industry,” Stuart Cullum, Olds College president, said in a media release.
“The Olds College Smart Farm was launched to be a next generation applied research and learning platform, where industry and student could engage in order to produce the next generation of leaders and leading companies.”
Chris Terris is vice-president of Global Strategy with TELUS Agriculture.
“The Smart Farm helps us understand the realities and challenges that farmers are facing and how technology can optimize food production and increase yields to meet the growing needs of our hungry planet,” said Terris.
“Investing in, and partnering with Olds College is a truly unique and win-win opportunity for TELUS Agriculture. We are proud to support the continued opportunities for innovation, education and collaboration that the college has built.”
According to the Dec. 1 media release, another TELUS Agriculture-sponsored project in testing on the farm is Hummingbird Technologies’ artificial intelligence and remote-sourcing imagery solution that provides analytics to farmers, advisors and agri-business.
“Hummingbird processes image data to create a valuable analytics layer to help ensure targeted applications are made to the right field areas and enable the early detection of issues that affect crop health and yields,” the release states.
“Olds College is assessing the effectiveness of the software and if successful, the use of Hummingbird’s services could greatly increase the efficiency of a producer by both costs and labour.”
Started in 2018, the Olds College Smart Farm has allowed agriculture and technology industries to develop and demonstrate products that support sustainable food production and agricultural products, said Cullum.