Agriculture in Ontario, indeed Canada, is on the cusp of a dramatic revolution in large part due to the emergence of Precision Agri-Food Technologies (PAT). We are about to witness the digitization of agriculture and with this there will be explosive growth in volumes of electronic data and unprecedented demand for tools to manage and analyze it to extract maximum value. Canadian farmers are under incredible pressure, tasked to meet societal demands and farm in an environmentally sustainable manner while remaining economically viable. It is in this context we understand unequivocally the importance of precision agriculture, using information and communication technologies for improved fine-scale control of plants, animals and physical resource variability to optimize economic, social and environmental farm performance. Ontario can initiate the development of the vision, strategy and implementation within the emerging Precision Agri-Food sector on behalf of Canada.
Nine partner organizations (University of Guelph, University of Waterloo, Niagara College, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, Livestock Research Innovation Corporation, Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Ontario Federation of Agriculture and Ontario Agri-Food Technologies) in Ontario led a comprehensive Precision Agri-Food Scoping and Assessment Study to assess the readiness of stakeholders in the Ontario agri-food industry to advance the development and implementation of PAT by driving research, development and innovation towards commercial opportunities. Phase one identified opportunities for Ontario to take a leading role in developing the strategy, vision and necessary infrastructure to facilitate and accelerate the validation, adoption and innovation of PAT. Phase two is currently underway.