Giving it the old college try has a new meaning these days

Lakeland College Agriculture Technology Centre.
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Lakeland College and Lethbridge College have each received a major funding boost and the pair has also joined five of their provincial counterparts to create a new research alliance.

Lakeland is getting $1 million in federal funding for smart agriculture technology. It will be used to construct a new Livestock Reproductive Technology Laboratory and boost “on-farm connectivity infrastructure” for its Student-Managed Farm (SMF).

This will include specialized sensors and monitoring technology, emission detection equipment for livestock, optical spot-spraying technology and a drone fitted with two multispectral cameras. It also supports the college’s new $2.6-million Agriculture Technology Centre, which is opening at its Vermilion campus this fall.

“We’ll continue to move forward with establishing our new Agriculture Technology Centre as the ‘nerve centre’ for the research, collection and analysis of data collected from new ag technologies we use on our SMF,” said Michael Crowe, Lakeland’s VP of academic and applied research.

Meanwhile, Lethbridge College is getting $1.3 million from the same federal funding source, the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

More than $900,000 of those funds will go towards creating the Advanced Post-Harvest Technology Centre.

“The proposed state-of-the-art facility in partnership with the agriculture industry will be unique in Alberta and will fill the much-needed research capacity gap in post-harvest research focused on Alberta crops,” said applied research chair Chandra Singh.

The remaining $411,000 is for the Spatial Technologies Applied Research and Training (START) initiative, which will employ virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) technology. Although known for its entertainment uses, these technologies can also be used by businesses to “realize cost savings, enhance collaboration, and increase safety,” the college says on its website.

Alberta’s colleges are acquiring more cutting-edge technology, and developing the expertise in using it. That has prompted seven of them to sign a declaration to work together “to advance agriculture and food research in Alberta.”

In addition to fostering joint research, the declaration will allow the schools to “support consistent and competitive fee structures for agriculture and food-related applied research services, facilitate work-integrated learning opportunities for students, and to collectively share data and results,” they said in a joint release.

The other participants are Grande Prairie Regional College, Medicine Hat College, NAIT, Olds College and SAIT.

– information above provided via news releases.

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