SASKATOON, Saskatchewan — Croptimistic Technology Inc. (Croptimistic), a Canadian AgTech company, has assembled a partnership to automate and scale SWAT MAPS to advance Canadian agriculture. This $5 million project will bring together academic and on-farm researchers, industry players and smart farm staff collaborate to develop new soil and crop technologies and validate them with agricultural producers. The Canadian Agri-Food Automation and Intelligence Network (CAAIN) will fund $1.1M of this project.
Farmers spend a large component of their budget on soil-applied inputs, such as fertilizer, seed and herbicides. They need precise soil, water and topography (SWAT) data when planning optimal site-specific applications. Crop “yield potential” technology such as satellite imagery of crop biomass and growth is relatively common. Far more difficult to source is accurate, automated, artificial intelligence-ready “soil potential” information generated by soil-based hardware and software. This project led by Croptimistic in collaboration with researchers at the University of Regina, the University of Prince Edward Island, and the University of Saskatchewan will expand SWAT MAPS’s capacity, eventually allowing it to answer questions such as, "which seed varieties grow best in dry zones, wet zones, saline areas or specific soil types?”
By collaborating with commercial and smart farms across the country, SWAT MAPS will develop scalable analytics and agronomic validation solutions supporting the widespread adoption of precision agriculture. This in turn, will improve producer profitability and environmental sustainability. From soil-based AI to scalable field execution, this project will lead the way as Canada's premier soil technology.
“This project will combine years of practical on-farm experience from SWAT MAPS and other industry partners with leading academic researchers across Canada. The result will be new and improved tools that will help Canadian farmers make better decisions in the field when it comes to applying seed, fertilizer, and other inputs,” says Evan MacDonald, P.E.I.-based PhD candidate and project lead for Croptimistic.
Cory Willness, CEO of Croptimistic, adds “We are privileged to have our SWAT ECOSYSTEM working directly with the team of experts spanning across three Canadian universities on automating technologies such as plant stand counts, soil survey connections, and on-farm trial evaluations.”
Dean Angela Bedard-Haughn, College of Agriculture, at the University of Saskatchewan, says “Our SKSIS (Saskatchewan Soil Information System) team is excited to be working with Croptimistic to incorporate more soil information into their toolkit, which in turn will help farmers make better management decisions.”
“We were very impressed with the Croptimistic submission in response to our October 2020 funding call,” says CAAIN CEO, Kerry Wright. “Their concept of developing automation and artificial intelligence of SWAT maps is remarkable, and as one of the largest projects of the seven we greenlighted, its scope and scale reflect the important benefits it will provide to Canadian producers. ‘Doing more with less,’ is the new mantra of the agri-food sector, and precision agriculture is an important piece of that puzzle. Any initiative that advances the adoption of such technology must be supported, wherever possible.”