B.C. Advances in Agritech

B.C. Advances in Agritech

February 14, 2018 Posted by Abby Pollen

British Columbia’s agrifood and seafood sector is one of the most diverse in Canada, with over 200 primary agriculture products, 100 species of seafood, a world-renowned wine industry and a growing array of high-quality, high-value niche products. Agrifood entrepreneurs can access a variety of programs that support the growth and expansion of sector startups and businesses. These programs include the B.C. Agrifood Venture Acceleration Program, which provides training and network opportunities for agrifood technology entrepreneurs. Bioenterprise BC is a business accelerator that helps increase agri-food revenue. They collaborate with other organizations including the Sumas Regional Consortium for High Tech (SRCTec) and the BC Acceleration Network – BC Innovation Council. As a result of these and other supports, British Columbia is a leader in advanced technology and innovation for agricultural practices.

One innovator in the Cowichan Valley is using his tech-savvy to combat mastitis, a common udder infection among dairy herds. While large scale dairy farms use robotic milkers which can test for infection while they milk, small farms like The Happy Goat Cheese Company on Vancouver Island needed more accessible infrastructure, so farmer Cory Spencer developed a special camera that uses heat signatures to detect infection. The images are analyzed using computer algorithms and provide results at a sub-clinical stage of infection, enabling earlier treatment and improved results. He is now chief technology officer of a new company, EIO Diagnostics, and their scanner is attracting significant interest from the dairy industry in Canada as well as the United States, New Zealand and Mexico.

Meanwhile, at Coral Beach Farms in Lake Country, B.C., scarecrows and netting have been replaced with new laser technology. The “Agrilaser” emits an array of green light beams just above the orchard canopy and protects cherry crops from the appetites of birds. The light is harmless but creates a visible screen which birds perceive as a barrier.

Ostara has been working on a technology originally discovered at the University of British Columbia (UBC) which recovers phosphorus and nitrogen from municipal and industrial waste water and recycles them as eco-friendly fertilizer. The fertilizer is slow-release and highly insoluble in water, causing less run-off, and is more bee-friendly than some other fertilizers. UBC is also working on Integrated Pest Management of Honey Bees (Bee IPM), developing new tools to protect honeybees from disease, fungi and pests. The project, funded in part by Genome BC and Genome Canada, looks for protein biomarkers in the antennae of honeybees that predict disease-resistant behaviour. It is the first application of selective breeding for disease resistance in any crop or livestock.

You can get more details on innovation in the sector by checking out the brochure on Agritech. You can keep up with B.C. agricultural news and events by adding this blog to your RSS feed, or reach out to us on LinkedIn or Twitter.
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