AI technology allows farmers to target crop pests

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Protein Industries Canada has announced the development of new technology that targets pests when spraying fields, increasing efficiencies and providing economic benefits for farmers.

The technology uses artificial intelligence (AI) to detect weeds and other crop pests while passing over a field. This is estimated to reduce pesticide use by up to 95% while maintaining crop yield, saving farmers approximately C$52 (£30) per acre per growing season. Additionally, the technology can be retrofitted to upgrade new or existing sprayers, making it suitable for all Canadian farmers.

The C$26.2m (£15m) project is being led by, Sure Growth Solutions, Exceed Grain Marketing and the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at the University of Saskatchewan. The partners are together investing C$13.4m (£7.6m) into the project, with Protein Industries Canada investing the remaining C$12.8m (£7.4m). Approximately 120 new Canadian jobs are expected to be created through the project within the next five years.

“This new project supported by the Protein Supercluster is a great example of how the superclusters are bringing innovation to farming practices, using advanced technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and creating new well-paying jobs,” said Navdeep Bains, Canada’s minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Through a collaborative effort between three SMEs and a university research centre, this project has the potential to dramatically reduce chemical pesticide use without sacrificing crop yield or quality.” 

Once the technology is fully developed, the partners aims to expand the project. Commodities grown using the technology will be tested for international maximum residue level (MRL) compliance and protein content. Both streams of testing will strengthen international market opportunities.

“Consumers want plant-protein products that were grown sustainably, without sacrificing on quality or economic value,” said Bill Greuel, CEO, Protein Industries Canada. “This is particularly true in international trade where, despite Canada’s reputation as a supplier of high-quality agrifoods, our products are facing increasing testing. Thanks to the work being done by, Sure Growth Solutions, Exceed Grain Marketing and GIFS, Canada’s plant proteins are one step closer to being the highlight of plates of consumers around the world.”