Vineland’s Automation Cluster seeds a homegrown industry
Canadian agricultural producers must navigate a future in which a strong production outlook and a growing need for labour coincide with a shrinking domestic labour pool and rising costs.
To meet the labour challenge, Vineland has launched a $5 million Canadian Agricultural Automation Cluster with support from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. This Cluster aims to improve labour productivity using automation, artificial intelligence and precision agriculture technologies saving on time and human labour. Additional benefits include savings in energy and water usage, input costs and increases in crop yield and value.
The Cluster’s initial focus is on automation in horticultural applications to build collaboration with expansion planned into other agricultural sectors. Three projects led by Vineland researchers are currently underway:
- Develop and test robotic harvesters for greenhouse cucumbers and use big data for crop management and decision-making
- Develop smart, wireless irrigation technologies for potted flowers and vegetables
- Develop a full robotic solution for automated mushroom harvesting