Partners investing in new technology featuring AI to detect herbicide-resistant weeds

May 15, 2024

Today, Protein Industries Canada announced a new project focused on addressing the spread of herbicide-resistant weeds in Canada, particularly those affecting protein-rich crops. Through a partnership between Precision AI, Geco Strategic Weed Management, the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at the University of Saskatchewan and Sure Growth Solutions, the project will see the development of an AI-powered early detection system that will help farmers and agronomists identify and treat herbicide-resistant weeds.

“Building on the successes of their first Global Innovation Clusters–funded project, Precision AI and its project partners will be leveraging AI to spur innovation and drive economic growth by assisting farmers in detecting and managing herbicide-resistant weeds,” stated the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Through the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, Protein Industries Canada is supporting the continued growth of the sector and cementing Canada’s standing as a premier supplier of high-quality crops and ingredients.”

“Our farmers are always looking for new ways to make their operations more resilient, so they can keep producing top-quality food for Canadians to enjoy. This innovative AI-powered system will help treat herbicide-resistant weeds more effectively, helping farmers improve the quality of protein-rich crops and enhancing the whole value chain,” said The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

The partners will build off of technology developed in a project led by Precision AI under Protein Industries Canada’s first round of funding. They’ll add to it a new software application that utilizes drone and satellite imagery to examine each weed in the field with plant-level precision, leveraging advanced AI techniques to deliver timely alerts to farmers about potential resistance issues.

“Strong primary agriculture is the foundation of Canada’s agrifood sector, so it’s important that farmers have the tools they need to continue to grow the crops that will become the protein ingredients of the future,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “Investments into AI technology are helping develop and commercialize such tools, creating benefits that ripple through the plant protein ecosystem and out to Canadian families.”

The development and adoption of AI technology can help farmers and agronomists address herbicide-resistant weeds more sustainably and more effectively. By identifying and targeting specific weeds using prescribed herbicides, farmers can reduce their crop inputs and field passes, while increasing yields and improving crop quality. The benefits of the new technology are expected to affect the full value chain, improving the ingredient supply chain and leading to a more consistent, high-quality supply of products for ingredient processors and food manufacturers.

“By using AI to detect resistance early and provide precision herbicide application, we have a realistic path to reducing or even eliminating resistant strains in Canada. We look forward to our collaboration with Protein Industries Canada, Geco Strategic Weed Management, Global Institute for Food Security and Sure Growth Solutions in the essential work of helping conquer herbicide-resistant weeds, which are a growing threat to Canadian producers,” Founder and CEO of Precision AI Dan McCann said.

“A weed population evolves over years and disrupts crop yields over hundreds of acres. Geco is working with a range of weed detection technologies to provide our 50-plus farms with predictive weed control and resistance detection. We are looking forward to quantifying the value to the farm that will be achieved at plant-level resolution,” Geco Founder and CEO Greg Stewart said.

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