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Discovery Farm Woodstock joins Pan-Canadian Smart Farm Network

The Smart Farm Network is an initiative meant to connect Canada's farms to better improve collaboration and communication among experts.

“All really with the same goal to improve productivity sustainability — carbon footprint, water management, just basically reducing the negative environmental impact associated with food production, just to make sure we can continue to do so for a long period of time,” said Joy Agnew, VP of research at Olds College of Agriculture and Technology, one of the founding members.

Discovery Farm Woodstock, known for having one of the largest outdoor farm shows in Canada, was excited to come on board.

“Just knowing kind of what's been going on and the new projects and initiatives that they've been looking at and working together on really sparked our interest in Woodstock, too, to reach out and try and join going forward,” said Brayden Bell, Discovery Farm Field manager.

The partnership is a win for all involved, as the Woodstock farm acts as a conduit for farming in southwestern Ontario, which has unique growing conditions compared to the rest of the country.

A demonstration of a robot tilling machine is seen in this undated image. (File)

According to Agnew, adding Discovery Farm Woodstock strengthens the connection to Ontario.

“Having a site in Ontario just really expands our reach and our ability to connect with experts that have that expertise with different crop conditions, different growing conditions, different soils and all of that,” she said.

It’s those differences that Bell believes will be valuable for Ontario farmers, as well as colleagues out west.

“We're just a totally different topography compared to western Canada, different weather and different management practices and the whole southwestern Ontario is small, but we do produce a lot of food, a lot of crops and livestock,” he said.

The network started in 2021 with three sites, and that number grew by four last year, and with Woodstock being the first and only site in Ontario, Agnew said the network is heading towards an acceleration phase.

“The ultimate goal and hypothesis is that we can continue to be more efficient and increase the bushels per acre or pounds per acre or pounds per square feet or pound per animal, while reducing that overall environmental footprint,” said Agnew.

The Outdoor Farm Show runs from Sept. 12-14, and more in-field demonstrations are in the plan to reflect the new knowledge from being part of the network. Top Stories

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