When it comes to tech innovation, the Canadian Prairies is centre stage.

Rapid growth in the capacity of digital agriculture and the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is transforming the agriculture and agri-food sector. Canadian organizations and entrepreneurs, many of them located in the prairies, are recognized as world leaders in increasing the productivity and sustainability of our agricultural food systems.

EMILI’s annual conference, Agriculture Enlightened, takes place Thursday, October 26, from 8:45 to 6:00 pm at the Hotel Fairmont in Winnipeg. The conference brings together a diverse stakeholder group including agri-food and technology experts, industry leaders, decision-makers, researchers and students from across Canada for a full day of expert speakers and panelists exploring the changing landscape of agriculture in the AI era.

AI is finding its way into a growing number of applications in the agri-food sector.

For example, it is now possible for farmers to use sensors powered by AI to analyze moisture and nutrient levels in their soil. And autonomous equipment enabled with computer vision software can be programmed to deliver targeted amounts of fertilizer and other crop protection products addressing pests and weeds while assessing overall crop health. 

Meanwhile, predictive weather mapping built on hyper-localized data sources can help farmers make decisions in the face of adverse weather – avoiding fertilizer application prior to a storm to reduce wasteful runoff, and timing harvesting activities.

Growing the Innovation Farms model across Canada

Conference speakers include Jacqueline Keena, Rick Rutherford, Ray Bouchard
Jacqueline Keena, Rick Rutherford, Ray Bouchard will share their vision for Innovation Farms at Agriculture Enlightened 2023.

AI and machine learning tools like these are being tested and validated at EMILI’s Innovation Farms, a 5,500-acre commercial seed farm located 20 minutes northwest of Winnipeg.

“Central to this work is the validation and demonstration of cutting-edge best practices and emerging technologies at commercial scale, bringing industry and entrepreneurs together to collaborate in real life settings on working Canadian farms where the technology is meant to be deployed,” said EMILI Managing Director Jacqueline Keena. 

Conference attendees will have an opportunity to learn more about the success of this initiative as well as the opportunity it presents to grow the Innovation Farms model across Canada as Keena joins EMILI Board Chair Ray Bouchard and Rutherford Farms President Rick Rutherford for a panel discussion celebrating how their vision for Innovation Farms in Manitoba led to a similar initiative launching in Ontario.  

Conference connects experts across the ag tech sector

Other highlights of the day-long conference include a keynote address by agribusiness marketing leader Dan Schultz, a candid conversation between Farm Credit Canada’s Chief Economist J.P. Gervais and Vice President Digital Agriculture Fred Wall on the economics of innovation and a panel discussion on engaging youth in digital agriculture led by Actua CEO Jennifer Flanagan.

“Bringing experts together from across the ag tech sector equips us to harness the opportunities that intelligent technologies such as AI and machine learning offer,” said Keena. “We are thankful to have world class thought leaders such as Dan Schultz, Jennifer Flanagan, J.P. Gervais and Fred Wall on our conference roster.”

There will be a series of dynamic panel discussions throughout the day that will engage leaders in the digital agriculture and agri-food industry in timely topics such as: 

  • Putting AI to work agriculture: doing it responsibly
  • A legal perspective on innovation, data and technology
  • Interoperability for digital ag: what is it and what can we do about it
  • Raising ag tech capital in Manitoba

“Technology is continuously evolving and reshaping the industry, allowing us to do more, and in a more productive and sustainable way. This provides a huge opportunity for Canada to increase its prominence and grow our position as a global leader in food production,” said Keena.

EMILI’s annual conference provides a unique opportunity to connect and learn about the vast opportunities that exist within digital agriculture.

“We look forward to building on the success of the last three years with another outstanding event that provides a space for excellent speakers, discussion and an opportunity to network with other leaders from across digital agriculture.”

Visit www.agenlightened.ca for more information and to register.