B.C. farmers trialing agri-tech innovations

B.C. companies, farmers receive $1 miliion in latest round of agri-tech funding

Vineyards in the Okanagan use a lot of water. New agri-tech system being trialed to reduce water use. | laughingmango-eplus-gettyimages

From a mini electric tractor designed to save farm workers from back-breaking labour, to sensor technology that reduces the use of water in vineyards, B.C. farmers and technology companies are trialing some interesting agri-technology, thanks to federal and provincial funding.

Ten agri-tech companies or farm operators in B.C. are receiving $1 million in funding from the Canada-British Columbia Agri-Innovation Program.

Geotronics Consulting Inc. is receiving $192,022 to demonstrate irrigation technology based on sensors and wireless technology to track real-time use of water in vineyards.

“The technology could also be applied to other farmed crops that use automatic watering systems, once validated and commercialized,” the Ministry of Agriculture and Food says in a press release.

Dicklands Farms in Chiliwack is receiving $165,000 to design a dairy barn that improves air quality, temperature control and reduces methane emissions.

“The idea behind this barn is to create a way for B.C.'s dairy industry to dramatically reduce its carbon footprint by eradicating greenhouse gas emissions from enteric fermentation,” George Dick, farm manager for Dicklands Farms, said in a news release.

“This project wouldn't have been possible without the generous funding support from the governments of Canada and B.C., and BC Dairy Association's Dairy Industry Research and Education Committee."

Okanagan College is receiving $62,950 to design an algae-based bio-reactor that would sequester carbon dioxide produced in the fermentation process of making beer, wine and spirits.

Docantheon Horticulture in Victoria is receiving $15,000 to develop a three-wheeled, electric mini-tractor that farm labourers would drive laying face-down. This would allow them to plant, weed and harvest vegetable crops without having to constantly bend down.

“It should save a lot of bent-over labour…during garlic planting this fall,” said Ross Borden, who designed the mini tractor.

To date, the Canada-British Columbia Agri-Innovation Program has disbursed more than $11.3 million in funding. The partnership is a five-year $3-billion fund that supports innovation in agriculture and agri-food industries.