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Growing Up: Food Tech Farm to Fork

Avatar photoKatie Burnett 3 min read

Technology is rapidly reshaping agriculture, helping address urgent challenges in an increasingly food-insecure world. Over the past few decades, agriculture has advanced light years from relying on the manual processes of traditional farming. Fusing with technology to become agri- tech or ag-tech, the sector has embraced innovation to not only increase efficiency and productivity but also pave the way for sustainable farming practices.

Data-enabled Decision Making

Precision farming has revolutionized agricultural practices by leveraging technologies such as GPS, sensors, and data analytics to optimize various aspects of crop and livestock production. Farmers are now equipped with real-time data on weather patterns, soil conditions, crop health, and livestock feed intake allowing them to make informed decisions that are both environmentally friendly and yield-maximizing.

Drones, another driver of efficient practices, have become indispensable tools in modern agriculture. The technology provides high-resolution aerial imagery, allowing farmers to evaluate crop health, detect diseases or pests, and make targeted interventions. As a result, drones have revolutionized crop monitoring, ensuring a healthier and more sustainable crop yield.

Similarly, the integration of robotics and automation in agriculture has optimized processes and reduced labour costs. Robots perform tasks including planting, weeding, and harvesting with precision and speed, addressing labor shortages and boosting overall productivity.

Precision Water Management

Water scarcity is a major concern in agriculture. A 2019 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report notes that farming operations account for 70% of all water withdrawal and, if efforts aren’t made to mitigate, there will be a projected 50% increase in global water needs by 2050. Today, smart irrigation systems contribute to more sustainable agricultural practices by monitoring soil moisture levels and weather conditions, enabling farmers to eliminate waste by delivering the precise amount of water needed.

Supply Chain Transparency

Blockchain technology is being increasingly adopted in agriculture to enhance transparency and traceability in the supply chain. Farmers, distributors, and consumers can track the journey of agricultural products from farm to table, ensuring food safety and quality. This not only builds trust but also opens up new possibilities for fair trade practices.

Alberta at the Forefront of Ag-Tech

The agri-food sector is a major driver of economic activity in Alberta, generating over $22B annually, representing one quarter of Canada’s total farm revenues. Home to more than 22 agricultural research and innovation facilities, the province’s home-grown tech expertise is transforming farming practices with a focus on sustainability, food processing innovation, and biotechnology. From precision farming to AI-powered analytics, Alberta’s agricultural sector leverages technology to boost productivity while contributing significantly to global efforts in achieving food security. The combination of agriculture and emerging technology is driving a new era of innovation, transforming farming practices into smart and sustainable endeavors. Agri-tech solutions go beyond addressing current challenges by shaping the future of agriculture, making it more efficient, transparent, and environmentally friendly. As technological advancements evolve, the agricultural sector is set to continue making progress, promising greater food safety and a more
sustainable future for farmers and consumers alike.

Learn from the innovators who are transforming the global agri-food industry as they explore new solutions as part of the Growing Up: Food Tech Farm to Fork program track at Inventures 2024.