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SCAP funding supports technology adoption in B.C.

June 18, 2024  By Government of British Columbia

B.C. farmers are accessing new technology through federal and provincial government funding to grow their businesses and increase production to help strengthen food security in the province.

The B.C. On-Farm Technology Adoption Program is helping farmers adopt new technology, such as automation, robotics and innovative growing, packing and storage solutions. These advances are increasing food production and helping combat labour challenges. The program is delivered by Innovate BC, a Crown agency of the Province.

“Integrating new agritech on farms means farmers can improve how they plant, grow, harvest, pack and store the food they produce, which allows them to grow their businesses and provide for the communities they live in,” said Pam Alexis, B.C.’s minister of agriculture and food, in a press release. “By helping farmers purchase and install equipment that boosts their efficiency and bottom line, we are strengthening food security and production in B.C.”

“Our farmers work hard every day to grow top-quality products,” said Lawrence MacAulay, federal minister of agriculture and agri-food, in a press release. “With investments through the B.C. On-Farm Technology Adoption Program, more of British Columbia’s farmers have been able to make improvements on their farms that will allow them to become more efficient and keep feeding their communities.”

In the Fraser Valley, Van Eekelen Enterprises Ltd. bought a robotic weeder for its field vegetables. The “Robot One” is a machine-learning platform that can be taught to differentiate between weeds and crops. The teaching is done by the operator’s input and the machine remembers these inputs. After identifying weeds, the machine can selectively kill the weeds with a variety of tools on the machine. This robotic weeder is helping the Van Eekelens improve profitability, while reducing labour costs and herbicide use.

“The program allowed us to purchase leading-edge technology that has the potential to vastly reduce our labour costs related to weeding,” said Marinus Van Eekelen, operations manager, Van Eekelen Enterprises Ltd. “By being early adopters of technology, we can continue to provide high-quality produce to consumers in B.C. and elsewhere.”

Sandhar Farms in Kelowna bought a fruit-picking platform for its orchard. This technology, rarely seen in B.C.’s agricultural sector, is setting a new standard for efficiency and safety. By lifting workers to the height of the fruit, it eliminates the need for ladders, significantly enhancing safety and working conditions. Additionally, it reduces damage to the fruit as apples are placed gently in the bin. Beyond the harvest, it becomes an invaluable year-round asset.

Camirlaney Farms in Delta received funding to upgrade its potato storage with computer panels and digital sensors to control the storage temperature, which will decrease crop damage and loss from moisture and decay.

The B.C. On-Farm Technology Adoption Program is funded through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP), a five-year, $3.5-billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments.

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