Manitoba Digital Agriculture Table Visits Innovation Farms

Jun 19, 2024

The best meetings are the ones where participants don’t want to leave, where collaborators from diverse sectors find themselves deep in conversation, sharing ideas and inspiration.

This was the case on Wednesday, June 12 when EMILI brought members of the Manitoba Digital Agriculture Table to Innovation Farms for a meeting and tour.

The morning kicked off with an overview of the work taking place to increase exposure to careers in the agriculture and agri-food sector and discussion around the importance of STEM programs, career panels, work-integrated learning and upskilling opportunities to attract learners from diverse backgrounds into digital agriculture careers.

“The future of digital agriculture requires increased education and experiential learning opportunities, to develop vital competencies around technology application, employee readiness, and human skills,” said EMILI Skills and Talent Manager Rachel LeClair as the group of approximately 40 stakeholders from industry, academia, non-profit, and government organizations huddled around the board room at Innovation Farms Centre.

To increase access to resources and exposure to digital agriculture careers, members of the Manitoba Digital Agriculture Table participate in a series of working groups that take place throughout the year and are focused on: increasing research and development partnerships, addressing skills and talent gaps, and developing education and training opportunities. Each working group includes representatives from industry, academia, and non-profit organizations who work collaboratively to advance digital agriculture and strengthen the ecosystem across Manitoba.

After thanking the group for their contributions to expanding skills and knowledge across the sector and encouraging participants to email to sign up for a working group, LeClair turned the meeting over to Innovation Farms Manager Leanne Koroscil who shared insights into how Innovation Farms’ activities complement the Digital Agriculture Table’s priorities of industry and academic alignment, skills and talent development, and education and training.

Koroscil toured participants through Innovation Farms Centre and into the shop where a drone and weather station provided an example of technology being deployed across the farm.

“Using artificial intelligence, we are able to track and mitigate changes in crop health. The impact of this reaches across the value chain, deepening our understanding of the impact of climate change on food production, for example. ” said Koroscil. “It can also be used to supplement gaps that are found in data that maybe an agronomist isn’t able to see because they can’t be in a field 24/7 the way a weather station can.”

As the meeting wrapped up, Koroscil invited participants to join her on a short field tour to see where EMILI is developing image collections of pea plants and their root systems in order to apply machine learning to prairie crops. This research aims to develop tools for the selection of new pea variety development and ultimately, contribute to the goal of optimizing and reducing inputs for Canadian farmers.

The vision of The Manitoba Digital Agriculture Table is to increase collaboration between Manitoba’s thriving industry and academic communities in order to advance the digital agriculture ecosystem in the province.

Since launching in 2020, EMILI has engaged with approximately 500 participants at more than 20 meetings, fostering a diverse network across the industry to discuss issues, share opportunities, and exchange knowledge.

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