Equipping the Canadian agriculture and food sector with the right tools, knowledge, and skills to make the best use of data and digital technology is central to EMILI’s work in digital agriculture.

This is not work we do alone. EMILI’s digital agriculture expertise is informed by partnerships, collaborations, and conversations with producers, industry, and academia. 

Last fall, Dan Lussier and Alicia Demanuele from the EMILI Data Initiative wanted to engage our community on what needs to be done so the Canadian agriculture and agri-food sector can create value using data and digital technology.

Working with Paddy Hood and the team at CoDigital, they built a community brainstorming activity that was launched at EMILI’s annual Agriculture Enlightened Conference in October  2022. Brainstorming and discussion continued for another four weeks after the conference.

In total, 37 contributors shared ideas that generated 548 votes in response to the question:

“What needs to be done to ensure that everyone in the Canadian agriculture and food sector has the tools, knowledge and skills needed to create value using data and digital technology?”

Four key themes emerged, illustrating the importance of increasing training opportunities, developing a strong value proposition for new technologies, building relationships in the data ecosystem, and maintaining high data quality.

“Getting the most out of our agriculture data and digital tools comes down to people” said Lussier. “And we see that come through clearly in the top responses we received. With the right knowledge-base everyone working in the sector can play an active role in creating new value for business across the sector.”

Digital agriculture is growing rapidly, creating opportunities for people with diverse backgrounds and skills to succeed.

“As new technologies continue to evolve and transform how we work, an emphasis on the changing nature of work and skills required is important,” said EMILI Managing Director Jacqueline Keena. 

Keena was glad to see people from across the sector take part in the brainstorming activity, including growers, consultants, technology vendors, educators, the public sector, and non-profit organizations.

Canada is home to long-standing, industry-leading companies, global experts at our post-secondary institutions, and an emerging tech start-up scene, putting us in the right place at the right time to continue to grow digital agriculture in the Prairies,” she said. “The ideas generated here tell us that, while more needs to be done, we are moving in the right direction.”

Read the What we Heard report for a broader overview of the results, including a full list of 19 responses generated.

The EMILI Data Initiative works to build the data governance capacity of the Canadian agriculture and food sector to make use of data and digital tools in a responsible way that benefits everyone along the value chain. Through a unique combination of technology demonstration, applied research and data literacy training programs the EMILI Data Initiative works to strengthen the data ecosystem in Canadian agriculture.