Farming, horticulture, and cultivation have been a cornerstone of Alberta’s economy through multiple generations of families. While they will always need a hands-on, personal approach, rising costs and irregular market prices force farmers to find cost-saving solutions to stay afloat.
One such approach is using technology to maximize efficiencies while lowering labour time, which helps profitability and the environment, and improves farming families’ quality of life. Indeed, Agritech may even make farming more enjoyable again.
What is Agritech?
According to Wikipedia, Agricultural Technology (Agritech) is “the use of technology in agriculture, horticulture, and aquaculture to improve yield, efficiency, and profitability.”
Agritech is not limited to machinery; it includes “products, services, or applications derived from agriculture that improves various input/output processes.”
While all forms of agriculture will always be connected to a personal, community-based family lifestyle, advancements in Agritech help farmers capitalize on every crop, animal, fruit, vegetable, or beehive they raise.
Examples of Agritech in Action
Agritech is much more than upgraded, heavy-duty farm machinery like tractors or combines. It can include monitoring and delivery robotics, temperature and moisture sensors, GPS technology, and aerial imaging.
For example, dairy farm automation has advanced to self-feeding, monitoring milk output and dairy cow health, and even allowing the cow to choose when she wishes to be milked.
This self-sustaining system still requires inspection and in-person monitoring; however, farmers can now get up at 8 AM to complete their daily tasks rather than, say, 4 or 5 AM.
Whether Agritech is irrigation systems, livestock ultrasounds, mobile surveillance, or data compilation, it can be an invaluable tool in combination with traditional farming methods.
Finding Innovation in Traditional Farming Methods
Innovation opportunities exist throughout traditional farming practices. While it has many benefits, including physical health and working with farm animals, manual labour also wears a body down. A bad year can mean the loss of livestock, poor-performing crops, and equipment breakdowns.
Yet, where there are challenges also come opportunities for improvement and innovation. Dolly systems, crop analysis, and data collection are just a few examples of how agriculture began to advance.
It all stemmed from an idea to make a process more straightforward, more efficient, and less challenging to manage. For those who have been in the agriculture industry for generations, who better understands what needs improvement to create innovations that advance their sector and improve lives?
So, whether it is a new automation system idea, the design for a mechanical prototype, or developing a more advanced livestock monitoring system, those in agriculture now have a way to progress their idea into a fully conceptualized opportunity.
Develop New Agriculture Technology in Central Alberta
Most great ideas float away in the uncertainty of where to begin. Yet, there is more help available than you might think.
The Central Alberta Regional Innovation Network (CARIN) assists entrepreneurs in taking their business idea or innovation to the next level by providing coaching, information, and access to available lending partners and government grants. One of CARIN’s greatest entrepreneurial tools is its Catalyst Incubator program.
The Catalyst Incubator, alongside mentors and instructional partners, provides a step-by-step development process from your concept stage, research, development, marketing, manufacturing, and delivery— all the way to scaling your business. Not only can you evaluate and test your idea with your fellow cohorts, but the Catalyst Incubator also provides a valuable network of resources in Central Alberta, provincially and federally.
This program allows you to validate your idea, pivoting if necessary, and bolsters each participant with the knowledge and confidence to move their concept forward.
With provincial and federal funding opportunities in agriculture, technology, and manufacturing, CARIN’s Catalyst Incubator welcomes innovators to register for their next quarterly program.
For more information and to register, please visit CARIN online.