New technology being developed to target weeds more precisely

Protein Industries Canada announced the development of a new technology that will specifically target pests when spraying fields.

The technology will use artificial intelligence to detect weeds and other pests while passing over a field, which is estimated to reduce pesticide use by up to 95 percent while maintaining crop yield.

CEO of Protein Industries Canada, Bill Greuel says it’s an exciting project for the entire ag sector

“We’re talking about the potential for a 95 percent reduction in herbicide application, we’re talking about a reduction in cost, we’re talking about better precision in terms of weed control,” said Greuel. “And it’s important for our agriculture sector because our end use costumers are always looking for products that are produced more sustainably, produced with less pesticides.”

Greuel says the technology could save farmers $52 per acre per growing season. He adds that the tech can be retrofitted to any new or existing sprayer.

The technology uses high speed, high resolution cameras to help the sprayer determine the difference between a plant and a weed.

Greuel says that the technology is derived from drones, and the goal was to make it more practical for agriculture.

“This research project is really aiming at adapting that technology to large scale field sprayers and low crop agriculture equipment that we utilize in Western Canada,” said Greuel. “It’s taking the concept from a drone and applying it to technology that farmers are using every year in the production system in Western Canada.”

Greuel says that with the demand for more plant protein worldwide, the potential for crops in Western Canada is high.

“We go from a commodity provider, where we are today, to an ingredient supplier, which is where we want to be,” said Greuel. “We’ll get there through investment, we’ll get there through innovation, and we’ll get there through projects that Protein Industries Canada is supporting, like the one we did today.”

The $26.2 million project is being led by Inc., Sure Growth Solutions Inc., Exceed Grain Marketing and the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) at the University of Saskatchewan. The partners are together investing $13.4 million into the project, with Protein Industries Canada investing the remaining $12.8 million. Approximately 120 new Canadian jobs are expected to be created through the project within the next five years.

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