Canada and B.C. fund projects combatting climate change and labour shortages
August 23, 2022 By Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
The governments of Canada and B.C. are supporting 10 new projects with more than $1 million through the Canada-British Columbia Agri-Innovation Program (CBCAIP) to help fight climate change, address labour shortages, increase profitability and increase adoption of regenerative agriculture practices. The program is administered by the B.C. Investment Agriculture Foundation.
“Our agricultural producers are the first to feel the effects of climate change and, together with many partners, they are strongly committed to developing and adopting tools and practices to make agriculture increasingly sustainable,” said Marie-Claude Bibeau, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food. “These projects are prime examples of the kind of leadership they are demonstrating that will help us achieve our emission reduction targets.”
Okanagan-based Geotronics Consulting Inc., in partnership with Vintality Tech Inc., is receiving $192,022 to develop a new technology to reduce irrigation in vineyards. The technology will reduce the amount of water used, while maintaining vine health and grape quality. Using a combination of precision viticulture sensor technology with new developments in wireless and mesh networking, the system will allow real-time tracking of water use through sub-soil mapping. This technology could also be applied to other farmed crops that use automatic watering systems, once validated and commercialized.
“This funding has allowed us to hire a full-time employee dedicated to the project and get our technology trialed in vineyards. At a time when water-use is coming under justified scrutiny, we feel our project will allow more sustainable and profitable farming in B.C. and around the world.”
– Christopher Mark, general manager, Geotronics Consulting Inc.
Docantheon Horticulture is developing a three-wheel, electric-powered mini-tractor prototype that allows the operator to lie face down as it rolls slowly down field rows and perform planting, hand-weeding or harvesting tasks. Located in Victoria, Ross Borden is receiving $15,000 to build the machine, named “Zero” as it requires zero extra bed space to operate and zero bending to plant, weed and harvest. The goal of Zero is to help reduce worker fatigue while increasing productivity.
“The development of the Zero electric prone tractor is progressing well this summer, thanks to the financial support of the Canada-B.C. Agri-Innovation Program. It should save a lot of bent-over labour (and sore backs) during garlic planting this fall.”
– Ross Borden, designer and fabricator, Docantheon Horticulture
Dicklands Farms FLP in Chilliwack is receiving $165,000 to help design and develop a low-emission dairy barn that will capture and clean barn air, and control barn temperature and humidity. By combining cutting-edge, commercially available technologies, Dicklands Farms aims to lower greenhouse gas emissions from the dairy sector, while giving dairy farmers the ability to control the environment inside their barns, keeping their cows healthy and safe during extreme weather events and increasing productivity.
“Consumer demand is changing, and environmental sustainability is becoming increasingly important. The idea behind this barn is to create a way for B.C.’s dairy industry to dramatically reduce its carbon footprint by eradicating greenhouse gas emissions from enteric fermentation. This project wouldn’t have been possible without the generous funding support from the Governments of Canada and BC and BC Dairy Association’s Dairy Industry Research & Education Committee.”
– George Dick, farm manager, Dicklands Farms
“We are seeing innovative and cutting-edge solutions being developed in the B.C. agritech industry with funding through this program in response to issues such as climate change, labour shortages and food security,” said Lana Popham, B.C. minister of agriculture and food. “The collaboration between technology and agriculture is creating new opportunities for B.C. farmers and helping to grow and strengthen our provincial food system for future generations.”
Projects under the Canada-British Columbia Agri-Innovation Program have received more than $11.3 million in funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a five-year $3-billion commitment by Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments that supports Canada’s agri-food and agri-products sectors.
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