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Investing in agtech innovation with the Olds College Smart Farm

TELUS Agriculture is enabling a more connected agriculture and food industry powered by technology, data and collaboration.

Through key partnerships, like our $1 million investment in the Olds College Smart Farm, we’re developing and accelerating agtech while growing the next generation of agriculture talent.

On the 2,800-acre Smart Farm, TELUS Agriculture and Olds College have tested innovations like connectivity and 5G solutions, weather stations and field sensors in live conditions.

“The Smart Farm helps us understand the realities and challenges that farmers are facing and how technology can optimize food production and increase yields to meet the growing needs of our hungry planet,” says Chris Terris, Vice President of Global Strategy and Animal Health. “We are proud to support the continued opportunities for innovation, education and collaboration that the college has built.”

The partnership was a natural fit according to Olds College President Stuart Cullum. “Olds College's social purpose is to transform agriculture for a better world and I believe that TELUS has a global transformative purpose as well.”

Empowering a connected, sustainable food system

“The future of agriculture depends on our ability to grow more with less, so accelerating the development of new technology is absolutely critical. TELUS is helping us succeed in that,” says Joy Agnew, Associate Vice-President, Applied Research at Olds College.

“Utilizing digital tools, farmers will be drastically reducing water use, fertilizer use and minimize any negative environmental impacts.”

For student Felippe Karp, farming and sustainability go hand in hand. Originally from Brazil where his dad’s family owns a small farm, Karp is now completing his PhD candidacy from McGill University at the Smart Farm studying data and yield variability.

“We need to take care of this world. If we use more than we need, we need to think about that,” he says. “Seeing big companies, such as TELUS investing in agriculture is amazing. Now, as partners, we can use technology to reduce the impact on our environment, and make a better world in the future.”

Nurturing the next generation of ag talent

The Smart Farm offers students the opportunity to learn about the industry, work on research projects and use agtech in a cutting-edge, practical environment.

For student Julie Cobb, the Smart Farm helped her take on new skills and pivot her career.

“Because of COVID, I got laid off and my wife actually suggested that I go back to school,” says Cobb, whose future career ambitions include regenerative farming practices and helping farmers work more efficiently.

“TELUS supporting agriculture is huge. If you start with helping the farmer, the farmer is gonna help everybody, and it's just gonna cascade.”

Testing agtech in a living lab

The commercial-scale size of the Smart Farm allows TELUS Agriculture to develop, scale and demonstrate solutions that will support growers to achieve better yields and profitability as well as drive the sustainable production of food.

“It’s mind blowing,” says Agnew of the innovations being explored in agriculture today. “We're envisioning things like autonomous equipment, imagery streaming directly from the drone.”

On the Smart Farm, technology is truly helping define the future of farming.