Welcome of AIMday AgTech 2018
Welcome to AIMday™ AgTech 2018, hosted by the Innovation Enterprise at the University of Saskatchewan, in collaboration with the University of Regina and Saskatchewan Polytechnic.
This is the fourth AIMday™ being organized in North America. We look forward to welcoming companies, organizations and academic researchers to this event on October 31, 2018, to discuss specific industry challenges in the AgTech research space.
Academic Industry Meeting day, or AIMday™, is centered around workshops whereby company questions are submitted around a central theme which are then discussed by academics from across the University disciplines.
- Each question or challenge submitted by a company is tackled by a group of academics, with the aim of finding a pathway to a solution.
- One question, one hour, a group of academic experts – the AIMday™ format is unique.
- Register your attendance at the event by submitting a question on the registration page.
Why focus on Agricultural Technology (AgTech)
Technological and scientific advancements have revolutionized the agricultural landscape in the last few decades. The United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization’s projection of a 70% increase in food production over the next four decades, comes against a backdrop of enormous challenges facing the global agricultural system. These challenges include growing global demands for better food, declining productivity coupled with decreasing arable land and the constraints posed by limited availability of water and other vital resources, as well as environmental risks, such as climate change.
Opportunities: The use of agricultural technology (AgTech) based solutions has the potential to reduce the negative impacts of fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides on the environment while increasing food production at the same time. In the last few decades, there has been a considerable use of AgTech in the form of farm machinery, growth-enhancing chemicals for crops, climate prediction/control solutions, and genetic engineering of crops. Integrated farming systems which are the synergetic application of AgTech in multiple areas is expected to increase efficiency and productivity when deployed. This will integrate genetics, IT sensing and smart machinery with automation such that farmers are just buttons away from carrying out any farming operation. The immediate impacts of AgTech include:
- Reshaping global agriculture: AgTech has the potential to reshape global agriculture through increased productivity and reduction in the environment and social costs of modern production practices. With limited opportunities for expanding agricultural lands, major innovations in AgTech are essential to boost productivity and enhance the efficiency and resiliency of the food system.
- Innovation across agricultural value chain: There are regular developments of technologies that enable farmers to perform farm operations more efficiently, access new markets and capture vital and useful data. AgTech also provides opportunities for innovation across the entire agricultural value chain from inputs to waste disposal.
- Reduced pesticides and fertilizers use:With AgTech, farmers can now use reduced quantities of pesticides and fertilizers while targeting very specific areas or individual plants. Decreased water, fertilizer and pesticide used can, in turn, lead to lower food prices in the market since the production cost is lower. This has direct impacts on the conservation of land, water and biodiversity.
- Sustainable agricultural practices: Sustainable Agriculture is geared towards responsible use of land, water and biodiverse resources in food production. AgTech innovations tend to not only minimize the harmful effects of agricultural practices such as environmental pollution, water erosion, soil depletion and other types of environmental damage arising from agricultural production, but also improve the soil health by balancing soil nutrition elements and rhizosphere microbial flora.
Challenges: In spite of the technological advancements, there are emerging challenges due to the automation of farm processes that need innovative solutions. The use of herbicides and pesticides sometimes leave toxic waste on the farmlands that eventually run off into water bodies. Even though Genetically Modified Foods (GMFs) have the potential to reduce world’s food shortage and malnutrition, there are challenges related to safety, regulation, and food labelling that needs to be addressed by stakeholders. Adoption of AgTech is also hindered by the reluctance to adopt new technologies due to cultural inclination, consumer rejection and infrastructural challenges. Addressing these challenges will require new knowledge generated by continued scientific advances, development of appropriate new technologies, and broad dissemination of this knowledge and technology, along with the capacity to use them.
ABOUT THE ORGANIZERS
The University of Saskatchewan is a member of the U15, a group of the top Canadian research universities. Our main campus, well known for its beauty, is located in the heart of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada and is home to programs ranging from business, law, and arts and science to engineering, medicine and veterinary medicine, along with many others.
The University of Saskatchewan is well positioned to provide leadership in AgTech due to the research expertise available in the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, Crop Development Centre, College of Engineering, Department of Computer Science and Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy. Agriculture is one of the six Signatures Areas for the University of Saskatchewan. The College of Agriculture and Bioresources is home to more than 30 research chairs, including a Canada Research Chair, a Canada Excellence Research Chair, three Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Chairs, Ministry of Agriculture Strategic Research Program Chairs, Ministry of Agriculture Endowed Chairs, and several other government- and industry-sponsored chairs. This capability is further enhanced by our world-class facilities, including the Global Institute for Food Security, the Global Institute for Water Security, the Canadian Light Source synchrotron, VIDO-InterVac, the Sylvia Fedoruk Centre for Nuclear Innovation and the Plant Phenotyping and Imaging Research Centre (P2IRC). For an overview of other expertise, facilities, services and technologies available at the University of Saskatchewan, please visit the Portal for Industry Engagement.
The University of Regina is home to more than 400 researchers across 10 faculties, two academic units and dozens of academic departments with established reputations for excellence and innovative programs leading to Bachelor’s, Master’s, and doctoral degrees. Over the last decade the University of Regina has emerged as a research-intensive Canadian university, leading in research impact, international collaborations, graduate student training, and industry funding in the following areas of strategic priority: Anxiety, stress & pain; Digital future; Integrated human health: Equity, disease & prevention; Social justice & community safety; and, Water, environment & clean energy.
The breadth of research at the University of Regina has numerous applications within agriculture but selected examples of specific areas of research that have generated significant collaborations with our research partners include:
- Functional microbial genomics laboratory for the University of Regina’s Institute for Microbial Systems and Society (IMSS)
- Autonomous agricultural vehicles in our industrial systems engineering group
- Effects of environmental changes and industrial activities on fresh water systems at the Institute for Environmental Change and Society
- Waste management, groundwater simulation, water treatment development, climate modeling, and general environmental impacts through the Institute for Energy, Environment and Sustainable Communities.
Saskatchewan Polytechnic is the province’s primary post-secondary applied learning institution. From our four campuses, we offer over 170 distinct educational programs, together with 24 apprenticeship programs that cross all industry sectors in Saskatchewan. The Polytechnic’s faculty are a unique blend of education and industry experience that bring an applied approach to teaching and research. Saskatchewan Polytechnic performs applied research across all of its disciplines and we have five state of the art research centers that focus on digital technology, innovative manufacturing, natural resources, bioscience and health care. Through the School of Natural Resource Technology, the Polytechnic has a background in drone applications for agriculture, and our GIS programs provide the types of data that are essential to many tech applications in the ag sector. In addition, our Digital Integration Centre of Excellence provides leading research in collection and use of big data. Saskatchewan Polytechnic has developed a new diploma program in agriculture, which will be offered commencing in September, 2019. Through our collaboration with Ag in Motion, the Polytechnic has a Research Chair who brings a strong background in applied agricultural research. We are proud of our ability to solve real world problems, and by connecting business, industry and community with all of these types of academic expertise, leading-edge technology and amazing faculty, Saskatchewan Polytechnic produces applied research that has immediate value for the agricultural sector.
- Western Economic Diversification Canada
- Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
- Innovation Saskatchewan
- Natural Products Canada
- ISM Canada
- Innovation Place
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