Lakeland receives funding from NSERC

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April 8, 2015
Lakeland College received word that it will receive $67,085 in federal funding to purchase a tool that has applications in agriculture, energy, environmental sciences and fire & emergency services
The new funding comes from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) College and Community Innovation (CCI) program. The Applied Research Tools and Instruments Grant will allow the college to purchase an unmanned aerial vehicle system (UAS) equipped with image acquisition and processing technologies. A UAS is the combination of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) plus camera payload and image processing software.

UAS tools have received widespread uptake by police agencies for crime scene visualization, search and rescue, and tactical operations. There is huge potential for these tools to advance precision agriculture by providing timely, non-invasive surveillance and scouting of crops at a low cost, says Josie Van Lent, dean of Lakeland’s School of Agricultural Sciences.

Colour-infrared photography can provide important information about crop growth, health and damage from pests or disease. A UAS will allow this data to be collected more frequently and at high spatial and temporal resolution. 

“This is very exciting for our college, our students, and for the agriculture industry in our region,” says Van Lent. “Precision agriculture is reliant on data collection. UAVs enable frequent non-damaging and whole-crop scouting, which can give producers better information to make informed decisions about crop management. I am excited about the hands-on opportunities our students and researchers will have to explore how these technologies will impact the future of agriculture.”

Lakeland College’s applied research will evaluate the practical use of UAS within local farming practices. This research tool will add an important dimension of data to the college’s multi-year economic evaluation of crop management intensities project with industry partners, along with many other agriculture research projects. First flights of the UAS are expected to begin in May or June.

“This research tool will open new ways for our students and faculty to interact with industry and allow our students to learn about emerging techniques and technologies that will impact a broad array of disciplines,” says Lorne MacGregor, director of applied research and commercialization. “With this equipment our environmental students will be able to explore wildlife habitats in ways we never thought possible. Thermal imaging will allow us to conduct research in areas related to fire fighting and other emergency services as well as energy usage and conservation. The opportunities here are really limitless.”

Photo: Thanks to funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada's College and Community Innovation program, Lakeland will purchase an unmanned aerial vehicle system that has applications in agriculture, energy, environmental sciences and fire and emergency services.

April 8, 2015