Growing up on a grain farm in Western Manitoba, Leanne Koroscil saw first hand how technology transformed the way her family farmed.

“I was in the front row, sitting in the equipment as we started adding GPS and different headers,” she said.

She remembers sitting beside her dad in the tractor cab as he hesitantly practiced letting go of his new GPS-guided steering wheel. 

“Little did I know that I was watching something major unfolding that would soon become a component of digital agriculture,” she said. “The industry moves fast, and it’s astonishing to think that not very long ago, my great-grandparents were still harvesting with horses and threshing machines. They couldn’t have imagined where agriculture was headed.”

An interest in sustainability and exploring ways to bridge the gaps between the science, technology and agricultural sectors led Koroscil to pursue both a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and a Master of Science (Plant Science) from the University of Manitoba, and laid the foundation for her role as a Project Associate with EMILI.

Digital agriculture revolutionized farming, increasing sustainability 

Koroscil’s experience seeing her family move from traditional farming practices to digital technologies that harness data to inform decision-making is familiar across Canada.

According to RBC’s Farmer 4.0 report, “a fourth agricultural revolution is underway and this one isn’t about seeds or diesel. It’s all about data.”

“Producers are adopting satellite imagery, drones, visual recognition-assisted robotics, autonomous harvesting vehicles and a range of sensors — all continuously feeding data on soil health, pest management, weather conditions and more into cloud-based platforms powered by artificial intelligence that converts data into predictive analytics accessed by farmers and agronomists on their mobile smartphones,” said EMILI Managing Director Jacqueline Keena in a Winnipeg Free Press article earlier this year. 

“We are entering an exciting new era full of potential,” said Koroscil.

“With every year that passes, the industry addresses issues, increases efficiency, fine-tunes practices, and creates solutions to continue providing for the growing global population,” she said.

As Manitoba 4R Day approaches, Koroscil is looking forward to connecting with others to discuss how 4R principles are increasing sustainability, as well as the chance to share details on how soil sensors are informing decisions on Innovation Farms

soil moisture probes provide insight into optimal moisture and temperature for sowing.

“Soil probes help us make good 4R decisions,” she said. “For example, if you have a soil probe measuring temperature and moisture, it can provide you with the optimal sowing window at the beginning of the season. This saves time and money while also following two of the 4Rs: Right Place and Right Time.”

With more than 47 sensors installed across Innovation Farms, Koroscil spends her days collecting valuable data that provides new perspectives on crop health and production throughout the season.

“I am thrilled to be at the frontline of testing novel and sustainable digital agriculture solutions,” she said. “My hope is that the diverse work we are doing on Innovation Farms not only increases productivity, efficiency, and sustainability within the agriculture industry, but is insightful and inspiring to anyone not directly involved in digital agriculture.”

While her background in agriculture is extensive, she encourages people with urban backgrounds to get involved. Part of her role with EMILI is to support projects that educate and equip individuals from non-agriculture backgrounds for the wide variety of career opportunities that exist in digital agriculture.

“You don’t need a background like mine to work in the agricultural industry,” she said. “As the digital agriculture sector grows, so do the opportunities to gain skills and uncover new careers.”

This profile is part of EMILI’s This is Agriculture series, highlighting talented and diverse individuals across the digital agriculture sector.