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Agritech innovation challenge winners bring local tech to B.C. farms

Posted on January 12, 2017

Four British Columbia companies have been announced as our Agritech Innovation Challenge winners and are using local tech to deter birds from B.C. berry farms, provide up-to-the-minute health checks on crops, turn B.C. wood waste into fully compostable yarn for farm uses, and improve nutrient recovery from farm waste.

Each of these companies have won $20,000 for developing B.C. tech to help solve a problem identified as part of the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture and Innovate BC’s Agritech Innovation Challenge.

This partnership provides $80,000 in funding through Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative that provides a $3-billion investment over five years in innovation, competitiveness and market development. The challenge was launched in November 2016 and brought together innovators with industry to develop a product or process to enhance productivity, sustainability and resiliency of B.C.’s agrifood sector.

Agritech Innovation Challenge Winners:

Fraser Valley-based gUAVas Technologies developed software that turns unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) into berry and fruit guards by patrolling the farm. In addition to motion, the drones use noise and light to scare birds away. The locally developed technology can help reduce the estimated $59 million worth of crops B.C. farmers lose to bird pests each year and replace other techniques, such as netting, cannons and manual labour.

For greenhouse growers of high-value crops, Ecoation Innovation Solutions (EIS) of North Vancouver provides the earliest possible detection of pests, diseases and deficiencies that affect crop value. EIS collects data directly on plant state and uses proprietary software to predict crop health. EIS Crop Sense system brings growers’ crop status to their desktop or smart phone daily. With the EIS system, growers can take immediate actions that increase crop value, reduce operating costs and reduce pesticide use. The made-in-B.C. technology is available now with paid field trials underway in B.C. greenhouses.

Vancouver’s Boost Environmental Systems developed an easy-to-set-up and easy-to-integrate anaerobic digestion pre-treatment technology that results in increased production of biogas which is used for energy, and the recovery of a high-quality fertilizer product that the farm can use on the land or sell.

Gordon Shank Consulting of Burnaby designed an industrial-strength, fully-compostable yarn made from cellulose that can be used for plants in greenhouses. The company’s BioMid yarn is made from B.C. forest product waste and replaces the synthetic, polypropylene yarns currently used. Unlike the polypropylene yarn, it can be composted directly and does not need to be manually separated from organic wastes for proper disposal.

Want to learn more about Innovate BC’s challenge process? Click here.

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