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Automation, robotics helping farmers strengthen food security

Abbotsford, British Columbia - Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

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.

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 remebers these inputs. After identifying weeds, the machine can selectively kill the weeds with a variety of tools on the machine. The robotic weeder is helping the Van Eekelens improve profitability, while reducing labour costs herbicide use.

Sandhar Farms in Kelowna bought a fruit-picking platform for its orchard. This technology, rarely seen in British Columbia'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, a 5-year, $3.5-billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen the competitiveness, innovation and resilience of Canada’s agriculture, agrifood and agriculture‐based products sector. This includes $1 billion in federal programs and activities and a $2.5-billion commitment, which is cost-shared 60% federally and 40% provincially/territorially, for programs designed and delivered by provinces and territories. 

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