Four Abbotsford projects are receiving a total of $1.6 million in agritech grants announced Friday (March 26) by the provincial government.
Representatives from i-Open Technologies, BW Global, Trident Processes and Bakerview EcoDairy joined a virtual Zoom meeting on Friday morning with Premier John Horgan and Abbotsford-Mission MLA Pam Alexis to discuss their work.
Alexis said the projects will help boost the agriculture industry in B.C.
“I am truly amazed at the innovation of the people here in the Fraser Valley, and across the province,” she said.
i-Open Technologies is receiving $500,000 to develop Agrilyze, B.C.’s first spatial data analytics platform for precision agriculture.
The platform is designed to help farmers reduce crop loss, manage work efficiently between teams, centralize all farm data, and remain compliant with environmental regulations.
Jonathon McIntyre of i-Open said in the Zoom meeting that their technology allows farmers to see data “that was otherwise hard to dig up and hard to put on top of their own local data.”
“We’re trying to provide the tools to give them information and make better decisions,” he said.
“We work with farmers and consultants to adapt their production practices to reduce their impact on the natural ecosystems, while optimizing and boosting their crop yields.”
BW Global, which designs and manufactures greenhouses, is receiving $500,000 towards its Better World Innovation Centre. The project is an international collaboration on a 18.2-hectare regenerative organic farm in Abbotsford.
President Timothy Kendrick said receiving a grant such as this is “like rocket fuel,” particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when so many businesses have struggled.
He said BW Global signed its largest contract in January and has been able to hire four people because of the grant.
Trident Processes is receiving $410,000. The company develops and automates systems for liquid and solid separation of agricultural wastewaster into fibre biomass, nutrient and water.
The grant money will be used to determine community needs and look at the possibility of establishing a manure-processing plant.
Christopher Bush of Trident said much of their work in “nutrient recovery” has been going on in the U.S.
“We’re now bringing all of that learning home to serve our farms here as a homegrown solution,” he said.
Bakerview EcoDairy – a 42.5-hectare farm that is home to dairy, beef cattle and layer hens – is receiving $230,000.
The money will be used to pilot a blockchain-encrypted information management system to follow beef products from farm to consumer. They will partner with KPMG to use existing software in a new way.
Bill Vanderkooi of Bakerview said the goal of the project is to provide transparency in the food system.
“Imagine the consumer buys some hamburger. They could actually use a QR code. They would know where the animal was born, what it was fed – make sure it was not provided any hormones or steroids – (and) looking at the feeding system … So it just gives us a really wide open view of that history,” he said.
Funding for the agritech grants is part of StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan.
Recipients are eligible to access the new Agritech Concierge Program to help businesses access new markets, diversify and grow while linking with investment opportunities.