Canada 150 video celebrates ag tech

A new made-in Saskatchewan video promoting Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations next year demonstrates the high tech nature of modern agriculture.

Federal public servants using a drone, global positioning software, and agri-geomatics satellite data technology and a combine, cut the Canada 150 logo into a durham wheat field near Wilcox.

To create the crop art image, the Canada 150 logo was uploaded to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software which picked the best field location and helped technicians program exact GPS coordinates into the combine’s on-board computer, ensuring the image would be scaled accurately for the 35-foot width of the combine’s cutting blades.

With the combine positioned at the correct starting point, the driver took his hands off the wheel and the GPS program took over, navigating itself along 24 precisely programmed lines and angles. Four hours later, the 500-metre-wide image was complete.

For David Lee, the Agriculture Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) geomatics researcher who did the programming, the project was a fun way to highlight technology that provides serious benefits to agriculture.

“GPS technology is in all the combines these days,” Lee said. “Being hands-free reduces fatigue for the operator and allows them to focus on running the machine efficiently. With this level of precision, farmers are no longer wasting energy and time on overlapping cuts.”

While the video demonstrates the precision at which a large combine can harvest a crop, the geomatics technology behind it can do a lot more.

Combined with field and satellite monitoring, farmers can know real time weather, soil, air quality, and crop maturity in their fields at the click of a button.

They also know when and where to apply fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. Armed with this powerful information, farmers can adapt their planting, watering, fertilizing and harvesting regime to be as precise as the logo cut in the field.

The efficiencies gained directly translate into profits for farmers and a healthier environment for Canadians, according to AAFC.

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