Lakeland’s ag research receives $1 million federal investment

< All News
July 26, 2021
Lakeland College will receive $1 million in federal research infrastructure funding through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) in support of smart agriculture technology.
The CFI’s College-Industry Innovation Fund investment will support the development of Lakeland’s new Agriculture Technology Centre, the central repository for all data collected on the Student-Managed Farm – Powered by New Holland (SMF) at the Vermilion campus.

“With the CFI’s support, we’ll continue to move forward with establishing our new Agriculture Technology Centre as the ‘nerve centre’ for the research, collection and analysis of data collected from new ag technologies we use on our SMF. We are very fortunate to receive this funding and are excited for how it will enable our research team to support producers and agriculture companies to increase productivity, efficiency, quality and sustainability of livestock and crop production,” says Michael Crowe, Lakeland’s vice president of academic and applied research. 

The CFI funding will go towards the construction of a new Livestock Reproductive Technology Laboratory and on-farm connectivity infrastructure, enabling the SMF to become a fully connected, data-driven, commercial-scale smart farm. Lakeland’s agriculture technology and equipment will grow to include the following inventory thanks to the CFI investment: 
  • specialized sensors and monitoring technology
  • livestock reproductive equipment
  • emission detection equipment for livestock
  • mobile imagery for phenotypic trait capture in cattle
  • optical spot-spraying technology for crops; and
  • an unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) fitted with two multispectral cameras for crops and livestock research applications. 
“The CFI’s investment champions Lakeland’s innovation and producer-led research priorities,” says Dr. Alice Wainwright-Stewart, president and CEO of Lakeland. “We look forward to opening the Agriculture Technology Centre – an advanced  space for our research team to produce results of value for commercial agriculture producers. Our students will also benefit, gaining the skills required for their future careers in a transforming sector.”

Slated to officially open this fall, the Agriculture Technology Centre project is valued at $2.6 million. It will serve as the home for Lakeland’s new degree in agriculture technology, which launches in September.

Smart agriculture integrates technologies such as automation, robotics, artificial intelligence, remote sensing, hyperspectral imaging and blockchain applications into the agricultural product supply chain allowing seamless and timely data collection and interpretation. Prior to adoption, ag technologies require development, rigorous field testing at the commercial scale and verification of return on investment for producers. 

Lakeland currently has 52 active livestock and crop research projects underway.

A total of $12.8 million worth of CFI funding through the College-Industry Innovation Fund was awarded to 15 colleges, cégeps and polytechnics across the country, as announced by the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, minister of innovation, science and industry on July 26. An additional $3,861,072 was awarded under the Infrastructure Operating Fund.

“Bringing industry partners together with researchers and students in spaces equipped with technology’s latest tools is a recipe for innovation and economic growth. This investment will enable bright ideas to be tested, applied and developed into new businesses in labs that have collaboration and partnerships at their core. The Canada Foundation for Innovation is proud to contribute to Canada’s future by supporting our extraordinary colleges, institutes and Cégeps,” says Roseann O’Reilly Runte, CFI’s president and CEO.
 
Photos: Top - Kyle Kipps, a Lakeland agricultural sciences instructor, engages with students in the Agriculture Technology Centre. Bottom - Exterior of the Agriculture Technology Centre, which officially opens this fall.