NWP Receives $350K to Explore AgriTech
Wednesday, October 26th, 2022
Project leaders, Nathan Parlee (L) and Riley Buker (R)
Northwestern Polytechnic (NWP) is undertaking exciting new research.
The institution has received $350,000 through the federal Applied Research and Technology Partnership grant to pursue research related to precision agriculture (PA) technology. The project is led by NWP instructors Nathan Parlee and Riley Buker and supported by project collaborators including Range Ward, Xcel Automation, Simark Controls, and the Peace Country Beef and Forage Association.
The research uses automation, alternative energy, and remote monitoring to make PA technology more tenable in northern locations. This kind of technology is widely used on south and central Alberta farms but has less uptake in the north, where cost and access barriers can delay technology adoption. A main objective of this research is to make it easier for northern producers to access and implement PA solutions, which improve farm efficiency and productivity while reducing environmental impact.
As producers themselves, Parlee and Buker both have firsthand experience with the challenges of farming in northern Alberta. “This project began with us looking at potential options for watering livestock,” said Buker. “It’s grown so much bigger than that now. Hopefully, this project will create more ease for grazing options and help producers save time, energy, and money.”
“If automation can become a viable economic option for northern producers, that might just be what keeps the family farm going for another generation,” said Parlee. “We’re proud to position ourselves in a long tradition of agricultural research at Northwestern Polytechnic that goes all the way back to the early days of Fairview College.”
In addition to supporting regional producers with technology access and adoption, the project will also present opportunities for student experiential learning, including through internships, summer jobs, and other training opportunities. NWP students interested in automation, controls, electronics, and technology-enhanced agriculture should contact the Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence and Applied Research to learn how they can participate.
“There’s so much passion and skill on this research team,” said Parlee. “There is a real entrepreneurial mindset here. Big dreams start small, and I think this project has incredible potential.”
This research is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).