Niagara College’s R&I team from the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre. From left: Gregor MacLean, research project manager; Mike Duncan, PhD, NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Precision Agriculture & Environmental Technologies; MP Pat Finnigan, Chair of Standing Committee and Sarah Lepp, senior research associate. The research team showcased its work to the federal Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food recently.
A research team from the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre got the chance on a national level to highlight the work, progress and future potential in the agriculture and farming exports to federal ministers who shape the country’s future and policy.
Members of the Niagara College team—Mike Duncan, PhD, NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges (IRCC) in precision agriculture & environmental technologies; Gregor MacLean, research project manager; and Sarah Lepp, senior research associate—appeared on September 18 before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food in Ottawa as part of its study of advancements of technology and research in the agriculture industry that can support Canadian exports.
The committee, which is looking at research, development and innovation with an eye to encouraging Canadian exports, is seeking to understand the challenges, problems and other factors that help or hinder the success of Canadian companies’ efforts to innovate. They invited NC’s Research & Innovation team as an effort to gather comments from industry stakeholders about the federal government’s role in the face of these challenges, or problems with respect to agricultural innovation and technology.
In his seven-minute presentation to the national members, MacLean showcased the efforts of the Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre’s students, graduates, staff, and faculty, including the unique and valuable offerings in precision agriculture that Dr. Mike Duncan brings to Canadian agriculture.
The Agriculture & Environmental Technologies team collaborates with a wide variety of partners, including farmers, commodity organizations, agricultural consultants/agronomists, agricultural technology organizations, and food companies. And their partners support exports in many ways, adds MacLean.“We believe our work and this technology is a critical part of the future,” says MacLean. “Farmer, agri-food and agriculture technology company collaborations in applied research will continue to play a role in supporting the farmers and Canadian exports, and we are fortunate to be part of that.”
He points to the collaboration with Ferrero Canada that is helping to develop a base of farmers growing hazelnuts in Ontario that will be provided to Ferrero’s Brantford processing facility, and then export and value-added Ferrero products, like Nutella and Ferrero Rocher.
MacLean also refers to the team’s partnership with Yellow Gold Farms in developing a web software that provides variable rate fertilizer solutions that are more profitable and sustainable. Yellow Gold Farms’ ReservoiRx data service can be exported to farmers and farm consultants around the world as a data service.
Additionally, the collaboration with SoilOptix is supporting the software and data processing of a soil health service. SoilOptix’s sensor and service is offered in continually more countries, including Brazil, China, Argentina, the United States and more,” explains MacLean. “This soil health service and data processing is a major data export, and all of the data processing is done by SoilOptix’s high-skilled team members at their offices in Ontario.”
MacLean says his delegation was fortunate to represent the College and the many partners and funders in Ottawa: “Without the team’s partners and our funders, this work would not be possible.”
NC’s Agriculture & Environmental Technologies Innovation Centre team works with private and public sector partners to develop innovative solutions to address today’s challenges in precision agriculture, GIS, computer programming, sustainable food production, plant growth, horticultural practices, greenhouse operations, aquaponics, environmental management and renewable energies. For info visitwww.ncinnovation.ca/specializations/agriculture-environmental-technologies-innovation-centre
~ With files from Julie Greco, InsideNC