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GOC invests more than $1 million in farm management technologies

July 11, 2022  By Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

On July 6, Marie-Claude Bibeau, minister of agriculture and agri-food, announced more than $1 million in funding for SomaDetect Inc. and Vivid Machines Inc. through the AgriScience Program to help producers improve farm management and their bottom line.

Across Canada, start-ups focused on agricultural innovations are developing breakthrough technologies to help address farm management challenges. These technological advancements are important to providing farmers with access to the tools they need to maximize production, increasing food supply, and boosting economic growth.

“Research and innovation are vital to giving our farmers the tools they need to tackle farm management challenges and boost food security,” Bibeau said. “These new technologies, developed by SomaDetect and Vivid Machines, will allow farms of all sizes to have access to information in formats they can use. Investments like these support growth in Canada’s agricultural sector.”

SomaDetect Inc., located in Halifax, provides dairy farmers with access to data on milk quality, reproductive status, and herd health indicators from each cow at every milking. With funding of up to $707,873, the company will combine its sensors with artificial intelligence to deliver real-time milk quality information at the farm level. Farmers can closely monitor information to keep their herd healthy and free of diseases and improve reproductive success rate, ultimately producing the best possible milk for consumers.

“Building new technology is full of challenges. Funding from AgriScience means that we can explore key projects that have some elements of technical risk,” said Bethany Deshpande, CEO and founder of SomaDetect. “This is incredibly exciting for our dairy farmers and the industry as a whole.

“We are excited to receive this funding and to dig into this new project. For a startup like SomaDetect, this support makes it possible for us to continue to develop our technology and remain at the absolute forefront of milk monitoring, computer vision, and artificial intelligence.”

Vivid Machines Inc., located in Toronto, provides fruit and vegetable growers with a computer vision system that captures visible and chemical details of every plant across a crop, from bud to harvest. With funding of up to $390,297, the company will develop its sensor and vision technology to capture plant-level data below the canopy of leaves. This will generate a real-time understanding for producers of the quantity and quality of fruit on every plant. As a result, they can better manage plant growth and predict yield and diagnose diseases, pests and nutrient deficiencies early. This helps growers maximize volume and quality of food for Canadian and global consumers.

“With the size and quality requirements for marketable fruit, crop load management is one of the pressing issues for growers. Maximizing the amount of fruit that makes it to the produce aisle with the help of accurate farm data will improve profitability while also helping reduce food loss,” said Jenny Lemieux, CEO and co-founder of Vivid Machines.

“Thanks to the funding we received from AAFC through the AgriScience projects component, we’ve been able to develop and refine sensor prototypes and machine learning models that can detect, track, and count fruit while they’re on the tree, to help growers efficiently understand the needs of each plant on their farm.”

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