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David Ekstrand - vice-president of SaskTel’s Business Sales and Solutions, Dr. Angela Bedard-Haughn (PhD) - dean of the College of Agriculture and Bioresources, Dr. Terry Fonstad (PhD) - associate dean research and partnerships with the College of Engineering, and Mike Stefaniuk - director of SaskTel’s Business Development participated in the signing of the memorandum of understanding at the Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence, south of Clavet. Photo: Danielle Baron

SaskTel and USask collaborate to foster and support innovation in agriculture

SaskTel and the University of Saskatchewan (USask) announced today that they are partnering to launch a “living laboratory” at the university’s Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence (LFCE) to test, develop and demonstrate world-class agricultural technologies.

Through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), SaskTel and USask will focus on “smart farming” research and innovation to accelerate transformation in Saskatchewan’s agriculture industry. Smart farming involves collecting and analyzing “big data” so that producers can make informed and sustainable farm management decisions that improve productivity.

This initiative—driven by engineering, agriculture and computer science researchers—will focus on conducting research, improving education around Smart Farming, and testing and validating new agtech ideas and solutions.

“The agriculture sector is an important driver in the success of our province,” said Don Morgan, Minister Responsible for SaskTel. “I am pleased to see SaskTel and USask working together on an important initiative to benefit farming in Saskatchewan.”

The LFCE would be the first research Smart Farm in Canada focused on maximizing efficiency in livestock operations through the latest “Internet of Things”-based technology in an interconnected wireless environment.

“We are excited to partner with SaskTel to help producers advance livestock farming to the next level through use of some of the world’s best digital agricultural technologies—from drones equipped with software, to sensors that can monitor herds and their health,” said USask Vice-President Research Karen Chad. “This cutting-edge research will help meet the world’s increasing food demands, while enhancing training of our students in the latest high-tech farming techniques.”

Terry Fonstad, associate dean research and partnerships with the USask College of Engineering, said the MOU underscores the commitment LFCE has made to livestock producer groups to serve as a powerhouse for innovative research and teaching that will improve livestock production in Canada and around the world.

“The MOU brings together new knowledge and applied research at USask in areas of strength in engineering, agriculture and computer science with the infrastructure and expertise at SaskTel to advance agriculture,” Fonstad said.

SaskTel and USask will invite key stakeholders in the agriculture industry, including agtech startups, to identify challenges, propose solutions and initiate projects to test and validate these solutions at the LFCE. 

“SaskTel is continually working to grow and innovate as a company. As there is a need for increased data-based decision making and farm-wide wireless connectivity, this agreement presents a perfect opportunity for SaskTel to lend its expertise,” said SaskTel President and CEO Doug Burnett.

Burnett said this collaboration presents an opportunity to bring SaskTel and USask together to forge a path to the Smart Farm of the future, noting the need is there to make the future of agribusiness sustainable in Saskatchewan.

“With modern agricultural technology improving and evolving at an ever-increasing rate, the opportunity to work together will support decision-making and drive innovation into the foreseeable future,” he said.

For more information on SaskTel’s approach to Innovation & Collaboration, visit www.sasktel.com/innovation

About SaskTel

SaskTel is the leading Information and Communications Technology (ICT) provider in Saskatchewan, with more than $1.2 billion in annual revenue and approximately 1.35 million customer connections including 626,000 wireless accesses, 305,000 wireline network accesses, 281,000 internet accesses, and 111,000 maxTV™ subscribers. SaskTel and its wholly owned subsidiaries offer a wide range of ICT products and services including competitive voice, data and Internet services, wireless data services, maxTV services, data centre services, cloud-based services, security monitoring services, advertising services, and international software and consulting services. SaskTel and its wholly owned subsidiaries have a workforce of approximately 3,600 full-time equivalent employees. Visit SaskTel at www.sasktel.com.

About the University of Saskatchewan

The University of Saskatchewan (USask), located in Saskatoon on Treaty 6 territory and the traditional homeland of the Métis, is a research-intensive university, leading the way in tackling pressing global problems such as water and food security. Research, teaching, and learning at USask are enhanced by its world-class centres and facilities, while its well-recognized experts continue to drive USask to be the university the world needs. The university’s Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence is a world-class complex of field and science laboratories that brings together under one roof every link of the livestock production chain. More information is at: https://lfce.usask.ca/

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