Olds College of Agriculture and Technology is expanding its Smart Farm research into Saskatchewan. 

Todd Ormann, Associate Vice President of Strategic Partnerships says the expansion into Saskatchewan was made possible with the donation of 800 acres of land west of Craik by Margery and her late husband George Steckler.

"They initially grew up in Saskatchewan, that's where their homestead was, then they moved into Alberta and farmed. They pledged the land to us, so that 800 acres in Saskatchewan is part of that pledge. The intent of that land is to do exactly what we're doing here in Olds, Alberta and make that very strongly focused on applied research."

He notes work at the Smart Farm is primarily focused on five key areas of applied research, autonomous agricultural equipment, sensors, data utilization, technology development and validation, and regenerative agriculture.

"It provides that testing environment where you can actually test things at scale on a farm. On top of that, we've built out some of the most data centric fields that we know of in the globe. Which then allows companies to test out algorithms and systems to kind of better test it before they hit the market or, tweak it as they're in market."

The Smart Farm team does applied research with companies that have technology to launch or have launched in the ag sector.

The work covers a wide spectrum from analyzing soil moisture probe measurements for moisture deficiency, to work with autonomous equipment  like the Raven "OMNiPower" platform and the TeleSense Bin Monitoring which allows for remote monitoring of commodity storage in bins.

Some of the other work they are doing focuses on the Crop Scan 3300H Grain analyzer, work on yield production models, the use of drones in classifying hail damage within crops, as well as research to compare data collected from weather sensors within the field to outside the crop boundary.

With the additional land in Saskatchewan, Old's College has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with SaskTel, a key component with its role in internet and connectivity.

Doug Burnett, SaskTel President and CEO says they are pleased to collaborate on the project .

He says it will expand SaskTel's role in helping to develop, test, and facilitate the wider adoption of innovative new ag technologies to help producers modernize their operations and keep pace with the growing demand for sustainable and trusted food sources.

The Old  College of Agriculture and Technology Smart Farm now covers 3600 acres with land located at Craik, (Saskatchewan), and in Alberta at Olds, Didsbury, and Lacombe.