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Performance beats cost regarding innovation

Performance beats cost regarding innovation

By Andrew Joseph,, Image by Barbara Jackson,

Canadian farmers seem to be slow when it comes to adopting new technologies—but that’s because they are being sensible in their capital investments.

That’s one of the many conclusions of the Brock University Niagara Community Observatory (NCO) report delivered on December 8, 2021, though more importantly, it found that when it comes to new technologies production is the determining factor over cost.

Garbage in—garbage out, with the opposite true: Quality in—quality out.

That’s good news for ag tech manufacturers who already are aware that their new products can be pricey owing to initial R&D investments and time spent to refine.

The research utilizes information surveyed via Ontario farms combined with actual interviews with farmers and ag innovation firms.

The report entitled “Growing Agri-Innovation: Investigating the barriers and drivers to the adoption of automation and robotics in Ontario’s agriculture sector” is authored by Amy Lemay, NCO Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor of Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, Charles Conteh, Professor of Public Policy and Management in the Department of Political Science and NCO Director, and Jeff Boggs, Associate Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies and NCO Interim Director.

The report noted that of the technologies, the ones most often adopted were—and probably no surprises here: automated machinery for seeding, spraying, fertilizing, and harvesting at 50 percent; 30 percent adoption for tracking technologies such as RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags, GIS (Geographic Information System), and GPS (Global Position System); and automated process control sensors and systems at 25 percent.

Other takeaways, regarding some for of automation and robotics technology adoption:  

  • 39 percent at Ontario farms;
  • 37 percent are crop producers;
  • 44 percent are livestock producers.   

The NCO report found that when it comes to adoption of these technologies, the ag sector wants and prefers:

  • tech able to provide solutions to real problems;
  • technologies with proven and validated performance and benefits;
  • equipment suppliers with local and reliable service, maintenance and technical support;
  • governance frameworks for data that protect privacy and security, and;
  • policies and programs that incentivize early adopters and smaller farms.

Next up for the NCO, is to use these findings to offer possible solutions to encourage faster technology adoption in the Ontario agri-food sector.

To read the report in its entirety, click HERE.

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