Category Archives: automation

A weatherman for every acre

Southwestern Ontario weather measurement system lets farmers use minute meteorological data

AGRIS employee Darren Clark setting up a weather station

By Matt McIntosh for AgInnovation Ontario

Farmers are notoriously keen meteorologists, but the weather information readily available to them isn’t always the most precise. That can be a bit nerve-wracking when your livelihood depends on conditions at the beanstalk level.

In an effort to make weather information more practical for individual farmers, AGRIS Cooperative Ltd., together with Wanstead Farmer’s Cooperative and Haggerty Creek Ltd. launched the AGGrower Daily Dashboard.

This lets them offer an up-to-the-minute rainfall and temperature data service using 80 automated and 200 manual weather stations.

Wirelessly connected and distributed at 10 kilometre intervals between Essex, Sarnia, Mount Brydges, and the northern shore of Lake Erie, the stations measure rainfall and temperature in their immediate area.

Gathered data is then fed back to a central database, which farmers can access through their computer or mobile device. The difference, though, is that those measurements can be taken by the metrerather than the kilometre. Continue reading

Ontario co-op worldwide leader in edible beans

By Kelly Daynard for AgInnovation Ontario

(Hensall) – When you drive into Hensall, Ontario, just off the shores of Lake Huron, the elevators at Hensall District Co-operative Inc. (HDC) are the first thing you see.

Towering over the small town, they’re an indication of the importance of the business to the rural community – but their significance is much greater than that.

HDC is one of the largest agricultural co-operatives in Ontario and a worldwide leader in the edible dry bean and food grade soybean business.

HDC’s history dates back to 1937 when a group of farmers joined together to form the “South Huron Farmers’ Co-op”. Continue reading

Keeping the crunch in Ontario apples

By Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Simcoe – A newly developed technology could result in longer storage life for apples and better quality fruit when they come out of cold storage.

Apples have long been stored in low oxygen environments – called controlled atmosphere storage – to keep them fresher longer and allow Ontario apple growers to market fresh fruit all winter long and not just during the fall harvest season.

But it’s never been possible to determine how low the oxygen levels for a specific variety can go before the fruit’s quality begins to suffer – until now.

SafePod measures apples’ response to atmospheric stress by monitoring their respiration rate while they are in storage, allowing storage operators to use the lowest safe oxygen concentration possible.

“Fruit respires using oxygen, just the way people do, and as you lower the oxygen level in their storage environment, they become stressed,” explains Dr. Jennifer DeEll, Fresh Market Quality Specialist – Horticultural Crops with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).

“At their breaking point when they can’t tolerate the low oxygen level any more, they switch to anaerobic respiration, which is fermentation,” she says. “You want to be able to get that oxygen level as low as possible while still maintaining safe levels because the lower the oxygen, the firmer the fruit and the better the quality.” Continue reading

Bubble-based aeration for more sustainable aquaculture

ltor-eric-chadwick-shaker-bukhari-wael-ahmed-ug-school-of-engineering-web

left to right: Undergraduate student Eric Chadwick, graduate student Shaker Bukhari and Prof. Wael Ahmed at the University of Guelph School of Engineering

By Matt McIntosh for AgInnovation Ontario

Guelph – A new pump that uses air to circulate water is being developed at the University of Guelph, and it could make some favorable waves in the aquaculture industry.

Known as the Airlift Pump, the device is intended to replace costly and energy-hungry circulation machinery at both inland and open-water fish farms. It’s versatile, energy efficient, and even has some unintended and rather positive side effects on water quality.

According to principal researcher Wael Ahmed, associate professor at Guelph’s School of Engineering, the Airlift Pump is an aeration system using a specially designed dual air injector, and runs using the physics of buoyancy. Continue reading

Wearable monitor for horses evolves from student project to global distribution

horse-wearing-a-device-2-webBy Lilian Schaer for AgInnovation Ontario

Watch the video

Cambridge – A chance meeting through a marketing project at Conestoga College has led to the development of a wearable monitoring device for horses – similar to the popular Fitbits used by people – that is now in use around the world.

SeeHorse is both an activity monitor and a health tracking device that can track all of a horse’s vital signs, including temperature, heart rate and respiratory rate. And if something is not quite right, the system sends an email alert to anyone who needs to know about a change in the horse’s condition.

Once attached to a horse’s halter, bridle or on a belly strap, the device can be synced to a smartphone or tablet and the information it gathers around the clock can be seen in the accompanying app in real-time, or viewed later as historical data.

“Everything is automatically collected and stored according to date and time so data can be extracted in report format and emailed to as many people as you like from veterinarians, trainers and riders to owners and barn managers,” explains SeeHorse co-founder and competitive equestrian Jessica Roberts. Continue reading