Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food recently visited the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre to announce a federal investment of up to $5 million to the Automation Cluster under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The Cluster will be led by the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre Inc.
Canada’s agricultural sector faces significant labour challenges and the greenhouse industry has the largest labour gap. It is estimated that labour shortages can cost the sector up to $1.5 billion in lost productivity and sales.
The Automation Cluster will help address labour costs and availability through automation, artificial intelligence and precision agriculture technologies in the horticulture sector. Over the next five years, world-class researchers at Vineland will focus research on three key areas, including:
- Developing and testing robotic harvesters for greenhouse cucumbers;
- Developing smart, wireless irrigation technologies for potted flowers and vegetables; and
- Developing state-of-the-art sensors that will help detect and monitor moisture levels in the soil and air.
“This funding is critical to the industry and Vineland is pleased to manage a national network focused on developing automation, artificial intelligence and precision technology to improve the competitive position of Canadian growers,” added Tania Humphrey, chief scientific officer, with Vineland Research and Innovation Centre.
RELATED: OFVGA welcomes federal innovation funding