Looking ahead to tomorrow’s agricultural advancementsBy Tim Lambert
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s exciting to see how quickly innovative thinking and technology can advance—and benefit our lives.
We experience this every day with our smartphones, the GPS in our trucks and cars, or even when we purchase something made from sustainable materials. But technological advancements and breakthroughs also mean great things for the agricultural sector.
From increased efficiency through automation to progressive production practices, like the adoption of enriched colony housing, based on research, Canadian egg farmers have embraced innovation. But what does the future hold for advancements in egg farming and agriculture? Judging by the speed at which digital technology is evolving, and the support that our government is investing into agricultural research, we here at Egg Farmers of Canada are envisioning many great things in the years to come.
Lately we’ve heard a lot about “precision farming.” By precision I’m referring to the idea of site-specific farming—essentially using information taken by satellite (thanks to GPS and smartphones) that allows farmers to collect vital data about crop yields or soil quality, to name a few. The farmer can then analyze that information to view a large area as a series of small, manageable sections—one area’s soil may be lacking nutrients and the farmer can adjust accordingly.
In terms of egg farming, precision techniques could enable farmers to monitor important factors such as individual hen weight, feed and water consumption.1 But that’s only the beginning of their potential application. The sensors of the future might scan important health indicators like body temperature.
We can only begin to imagine the kind of precise, microanalysis we could do with artificial intelligence—imagine the emergence of cloud based applications analyzing the behaviour and physical appearance of hens to provide additional timely insight into their well-being. The stream of data for analysis that will be possible in future is stunning. And speaking of data…
Big data, big changes
Another significant development within agriculture is something that’s become a buzzword amongst farmers, researchers and other industry professionals: Big Data. This refers to the collection of large amounts of agricultural data that can then be analyzed to uncover patterns and envision better methods. For our industry, this data can offer plenty of insight into things like hen health, and environmental efficiencies.2
Research for healthy hens
Academic research into agricultural practices here in Canada will also continue to impact our work in the years to come. One example of this is at the University of Guelph, where Dr. Suresh Neethirajan is focusing on poultry health—specifically, the development of smarter veterinary medicines and rapid screening platforms. What this means for egg farmers is the ability to rapidly detect cases of the avian flu virus and other harmful bacteria through on-site testing.3
These examples represent a smart and efficient way forward for Canadian egg farmers, not only at home, but also with the work that our famers are doing abroad. Sharing these new innovations with emerging agriculture industries in developing countries helps benefit, grow and provide food for growing global communities.
As we look ahead toward new technologies and research projects, we can be sure that egg farmers will continue to produce a fresh, high-quality product, feed their communities, be global leaders and remain strong and dependable contributors to Canada’s economy.
1 Canadian Poultry Magazine
2 Canadian Poultry Magazine
3 Poultry Health Research Network