Ontario’s agriculture and agri-food sector has a number of new digital tools and processes as a result of developments in various technological fields. R2B2 calls this “the connected farm” involving integration across real and virtual landscapes. These include wireless optimization and agronomic decision-support tools. Precision agriculture is the term used to encompass a range of digital devices, applications and databases of geospatial techniques and sensors used to identify and analyze variations in the field and to manage them accordingly.
Different devices, products and sensors work together in a connected farm to optimize resource utilization and productivity. The function of a product is optimized on the basis of information and its functionality with other products. For example, sensors and drones with associated digital imagery coordinate geospatial information on conditions such as infestations or crop greenness to inform early decision making to reduce crop damage at site, and therefore, making the wider scale use of pesticides unnecessary. The connected farm may relay that data to other production or processing functions within the farm or off-farm. PA technologies have rapidly increased data loads, thus generating opportunities as well as challenges for managing ‘big data’. With increasing numbers of devices and datasets, the wider economy has also generated a variety of new and dynamic services that are creating innovation in performance and business opportunities on the connected farm.
In 2016, R2B2 participated in a study supported by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. The presentation of these results, combined with two other studies supported by AAFC in Canada can be found here.