Keith Macintyre is a tech columnist with the Penticton Western News.

Tech talk: Help Improve agriculture with AgriTech

Keith MacIntyre is a tech columnist for the Penticton Western News.

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to the AgriTech Innovation Challenge.

This was a unique event presented by the Ministry of Agriculture and the B.C. Innovation Council that invited producers, processors, entrepreneurs, startups, companies and researchers to listen to a presentation on challenges in four areas: Improving Berry Competitiveness with Mechanization, Pest Management and Loss Reduction, Greenhouse Efficiency and Nutrient Management. These areas have specific challenges that can be solved with technology.

I was invited as an industry expert because of my 18 years of experience as a software engineer. My hope was that my experience in the defense and energy industries could be applied to help the very important agriculture industry. We have an extremely diverse agriculture industry in B.C. and it was fascinating to learn about how technology can improve our competitiveness and become more efficient.

One presentation pointed out that in the next 30 years we will need to produce more food than we have in the entire history of our planet. This is an incredible challenge! I think my favourite part of the event was watching how a Delta dairy farm helps educate their neighbours about how they process manure into fuel methane and fertilizer.

I was sitting beside Jerry and he explained how demonstrating the humane practices used on Canadian farms to urban families helped them understand better how well farms are run in Canada.

Another interesting area is drone technology and satellite imagery. Currently high resolution satellite imagery is updated every 16 days, but this is not fast enough to monitor pest infestation to target interventions. Drones could be used to fly over fields more often so that pesticides could be applied to smaller portions of the field. One company is designing a drone to fly in random patterns to scare birds instead of using noisy bird scarers. Even something seemingly simple such as a non-plastic option that is both biodegradable and strong enough to hold up tomato vine stalks in greenhouses is a bigger issue than one might realize.

The event was finished off with a pitch competition by four up-and-coming startups that spanned a centralized pathogen database to a chemical free automated greenhouse system. It was great to see the diverse and talented individuals and companies at this event.

I particularly liked that there is a business accelerator called Bioenterprise that reminds me of Accelerate Okanagan to help businesses in Canada grow and expand locally and globally in this challenging and competitive industry. With our entrepreneurial spirit and strong economy, B.C. looks poised to be a technology leader in AgriTech.

If you are interested in submitting a solution, a Letter of Interest must be submitted by Dec. 16 (https://agritechinnovation.ca/challenge-submissions/), and successful candidates will advance towards funding opportunities and an opportunity to pitch at the #BCTechSummit, the largest technology conference in B.C., (http://bctechsummit.ca/) in March 2017.

Keith MacIntyre is a tech columnist for the Penticton Western News and the owner of Big Bear Software Inc.

 

Just Posted

Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day with a powwow

Indigenous dance takes place at the Shatford Centre on June 21

Penticton cyclist injured in hit-and-run in critical condition

Jesse Birkedal was injured in a hit-and-run while cycling on Eastside Road

Vehicle smashes sign and cars in Summerland school parking lot

Driver of a Ford Expedition lost control, crashing into two other vehicles

Top classic car show cruises back into Penticton

Peach City Beach Cruise runs June 21 to 23 in Penticton

Update: Penticton fire in mop up mode at Greenwood Forest Products

An employee said as he was coming in for his shift at around 4:39 a.m. he heard a loud explosion

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Man arrested during Kelowna police stand off

Water is flooding Highway 33 in Kelowna Monday afternoon

Judas Priest rocks the Okanagan

Judas Priest is on a 32 date tour of North America

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Suicide confirmed in case of B.C. father who’d been missing for months

2018 disappearance sparked massive search for Ben Kilmer

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Restrictive policies affecting labour mobility for care aides in B.C.

‘I had to take two competency exams and pay over $1,400,’ said an Okanagan care aide

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Most Read