The Olds College campus was buzzing this past weekend thanks to the much anticipated AgSmart event. AgSmart brings together hundreds of producers and industry experts over two-days and it did not disappoint. Whether you were taking in the large-scale trade show, field-scale demonstrations, or the many educational sessions focused on technology and data, the opportunities for learning were plentiful.
Janay Meisser, Director of Innovation at UFA, says the event is a one-of-a-kind opportunity. “Ag tech is rapidly evolving and for many farmers and ranchers it can be hard to keep up. This weekend gave farmers a chance to interact with the cutting-edge technology and high-tech ag players. They were able to experience the latest innovations first-hand and to see how data is being generated, analyzed and utilized. Ultimately it also gave them the opportunity to see how they can apply it to their own operations.”
The event showcased the Olds College Smart Farm, sponsored by UFA. Innovation and Sustainability are important to the co-operative and supporting the Smart Farm is a significant example of how UFA is driving these priorities. It’s an interconnected environment through which the college is leveraging its land (2,800 acres), existing agriculture operations, and applied research programming, to provide a product development and demonstration venue. Aiming to accelerate agriculture technology and agri-food development and contribute to creating a sustainable industry well into the future, the Smart Farm also serves as a cutting-edge learning environment for students, producers, and the agriculture sector.
“We value our relationship with Olds College and are proud of our sponsorship of the Smart Farm,” says Meisser. “We recognize how important data and technology are for our members and customers. Our co-operative has a responsibility to respond to the changing needs of the agriculture sector,” he adds. “The sponsorship of the Smart Farm is one example of how we are addressing gaps and removing obstacles related to ag tech development and adoption and we are playing a part in developing an innovative and sustainable environment for the fast-growing agriculture technology sector.”
“The applied research that happens at the Smart Farm benefits local producers, but also has a global impact, leading the Pan-Canadian Smart Farm Network, a network of Smart Farms committed to sharing data and expertise,” adds Mark Tse, Director of Environment, Health & Safety at UFA.
The Olds College Smart Farm provides an opportunity for industry partners to bring technology onto a commercial scale farm where they can develop, test, validate and demonstrate it. It also exposes students to new technologies being developed and gives them the chance to see the ways in which data can be generated and utilized. AgSmart utilized the Smart Farm to demonstrate to producers how new technologies could translate to their own operations.
The Smart Farm is a very real value-added learning environment and AgSmart brings together a larger community of producers, industry folks and interested public to see what is happening at the farm and where the farm is going in the future.
The event not only gave producers a chance to see what is transforming the ag industry here in Alberta today, but also the opportunity to hear and see what technologies and trends will be emerging in the years ahead, starting with a virtual panel discussion hosted by John Hartnett, President of Thrive | SVG Ventures. The panel featured Scott Bolton, President & CEO, UFA; Stuart Cullum, President, Olds College; and Mark Blackburn, General Partner of Builders VC. The group discussed the future of Ag Tech and the video will be shared in the coming weeks.
For Daniel Stefner, a recent graduate of Olds College, being involved in events like AgSmart not only provides valuable learnings but also a venue to network with industry experts. “Having in-person access to the speakers and industry leaders is invaluable for young people in agriculture like myself,” he says. “It is great to see so many emerging and successful start-ups showcasing their innovative products at AgSmart. For young ag entrepreneurs like me, it’s a golden opportunity. It’s also exciting to know that the support for new ideas is out there from organizations like UFA. I think AgSmart provides a great glimpse as to where our industry is headed, and how technology integration will continue to transform agriculture for future generations.”