Olds College Smart Farm is expanding thanks to a gift of 320 acres of farmland from George and Marge Steckler.
The Smart Farm was launched in 2018 with 110 acres and has since expanded to more than 2,000 acres. It features soil monitors, digital weather stations, wireless grain bin sensors, multispectral imaging, precision ag tools, drones, data analytics, and artificial intelligence — all linked over a Wi-Fi network.
The college has already installed a high-tech weather station on the Steckler farm to measure dew point, humidity, wind speed and precipitation levels.
“We had a great life on the farm,” said Marge. “It feels right to help the next generation, and it’s nice to know that our name will continue on through this donation.”
“Olds College is our neighbour. It gives us pleasure to know our good, viable farmland will continue to be used for farming long after we are gone,” added George. “I look forward to seeing students out on the land, and to check out what they are doing.”
The retired producers, who started farming in the Didsbury area in 1973, have also donated to an endowment fund for bursaries for ag students at the college.