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Ottawa Smart Farm

Smart Farming in Ottawa

Ottawa includes vast areas of agricultural and other rural lands, and a thriving agricultural sector is a vital part of our economy. We also rely on agriculture, locally and globally, for our food supply. Technological advances can be used to improve agricultural productivity in an environmentally sustainable way: smart farming.

Smart farm field

In May 2020, the Ottawa Smart Farm was launched by the City of Ottawa and Invest Ottawa. Its purpose is to support industry-led collaborations and drive innovation in the agriculture sector by bringing together important partners such as:

  • The agricultural industry
  • The technological industry
  • Academia
  • Government

The Ottawa Smart Farm is located at the intersection of Hunt Club and Woodroffe, in the National Capital Commission’s Greenbelt Research Farm.

The Ottawa Smart Farm will:

  • Incorporate sustainable growing practices
  • Provide a space for innovators and researchers to test, validate and demonstrate new agricultural technologies
  • Provide training to producers, companies and students
  • Facilitate market-driven solutions
    • Grow companies, create local jobs and wealth
    • Connect farmers with innovations and technology
    • Inform policymakers on industry trends and evidence-based practices

National smart farm network

The Ottawa Smart Farm is part of a national collaboration to connect producers and innovators across Canada. Each farm has unique strengths and areas of focus that will be leveraged across the national network. By working together, we can advance innovation in this vital sector while helping to unlock new talent and technologies.

National smart farm network

  • Glacier FarmMedia Discovery Farm, Saskatchewan
  • Lakeland College Student-Managed Farm, Alberta
  • Olds College Smart Farm, Alberta
  • Ottawa Smart Farm, Ontario

What is smart farming?

Smart farm management operations flow chart

Farm management is evolving, using modern information and communications technologies to help producers operate more efficiently. For example, sensors and satellite imagery can help producers make decisions on how to manage their operations, resulting in healthier crops and increased yields, while reducing operating costs and allowing for more sustainable growing practices.

Why agriculture, why now?

COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges around the world. Global market pressure and financial uncertainty have caused some instability in the agri-food sector.

With the global population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, adopting smart farming is one way that Canadian producers can increase their capacity to meet this incredible demand.

Canada’s reputation as a safe, sustainable supplier of agricultural products allows us to take the lead in exporting agricultural technology.

Canada has the talent required to develop these technologies, especially here in Ottawa, where we have the highest concentration of tech talent in the nation. The technology developed here in Ottawa will help producers around the world to greatly increase their production.

Sector challenges

Agriculture is facing challenges that could impact producers and their ability to remain competitive. Ottawa’s Smart Farm partners will work together to share data and techniques with producers, organizations, companies and researchers regarding issues such as:

  • Climate change
  • Skilled labour shortage
  • Increasingly competitive global market
  • Rural connectivity

Supporting our industry

As part of a national network of smart farms, the Ottawa Smart Farm will help address sector challenges that change from season to season. We will support producers to be more sustainable and competitive.

Ottawa Smart Farm at Hunt Club and Woodroffe

Smart farm cultivated field
The Ottawa Smart Farm consists of two working fields, a total of approximately 100 acres and several demonstration fields. There is a learning command centre inside the administration building where information, progress displays, and technology demonstrations are offered. Visitors can observe and gain firsthand knowledge of best management practices and innovative monitoring solutions, such as sensors and weather stations, and learn how data can be used to optimize decision-making and management processes.

Ottawa Smart Farm video

For more information on the technology and solutions available at the Smart Farm, please visit: Invest Ottawa.

The Ottawa Smart Farm video transcript

Visual: The Ottawa Smart Farm opening title appears.

Visual: A tractor plows a field, a farmer picks corn.

The Ottawa Smart Farm is growing the future!

Visual: A farmer counts the kernels of corn cobs as a tractor continues to plow a field.

We’re piloting agricultural technologies to produce healthier crops and better yields, with lower fertilizer input and sustainable growing practices.

Visual: Farmers use a utility vehicle to inspect a farm field.

Soil sampling

  • Precision agriculture technology creates high resolution nutrient and texture soil maps to help the farmer assess soil conditions before planting.

Visual: A tractor aerates the soil of a farm field.

Strip-tilling

  • This semi-autonomous tractor is preparing the fertile root zone with precision agriculture equipment like automated steering with cloud-synced field data, and a fertilizer distribution system.

Visual: A tractor plows a field.

Planting

  • The semi-autonomous planter uses the cloud-synced field data to plant in the fertile root zone.

Visual: A farmer uses a drone to inspect crops, he inspects sensor and weather monitors in the fields.

Scouting

  • While the plants grow, the field is scouted and monitored by smart technology.
  • Sensors are installed across the farm to monitor soil moisture, and pests and insects.
  • Weather monitors installed across the farm measure air temperature and relative humidity, rain gauge, global radiation, wind speed, and more.

Visual: A grown out cornfield.

Find out more about the Ottawa Smart Farm at ottawa.ca/smartfarm.

Visual: The City of Ottawa logo appears.

The Ottawa Advantage

As a G7 capital city, Ottawa is an ideal location for agriculture, agri-tech innovation and Canada’s leading Smart Farm.

Core agriculture sector

  • 80% of the landmass is made up of rural areas
  • Over 1,000 farms inside the city boundary
  • 5,700 hectares of agricultural resource lands within the federally owned Greenbelt

Tech hub

  • Highest (11.3%) tech talent concentration in North America*
  • 46.6% of the labour force has a bachelor’s degree or higher*
  • 76,200 people are employed in tech or tech-related sectors *
* numbers based on CBRE Research 2020 Scoring Tech Talent report

G7 capital city

Downtown Ottawa

  • Home to many federal agencies including Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC)
  • 65 research labs including the National Research Council (NRC)
  • One of the world’s top sites for telecommunication, research and development facilities

Ottawa’s post-secondary institutions

Ottawa is the home of many public post-secondary institutions: University of Ottawa and Saint Paul University, which has been federated with the University of Ottawa, Carleton University and its affiliate Dominican University College, Algonquin College and the largest French-language college of applied arts and technology in Ontario, La Cité.

Research areas:

  • Artificial intelligence
  • Connected and autonomous vehicles
  • Data analysis
  • Engineering of agricultural machines and equipment

Regional economic development agency: Invest Ottawa

  • Over 100 partners
  • Operates the testing facility, which is equipped with multiple telecommunication systems to enable the Smart Farm

Rural Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan

The City of Ottawa approved a new Rural Economic Development Strategy and Action Plan in April 2020 to stimulate economic growth in the rural area. This plan identifies five strategic priorities, including innovation in agriculture and agri-food production, with the Smart Farm as a key action.

Smart City Strategy

The City of Ottawa’s Smart City Strategy, Smart City 2.0 was approved by Council in 2017. It lays out the vision for Ottawa Smart City aspirations based on three key pillars – A Connected City, A Smart Economy and An Innovative Government. The Smart Farm initiative is an important part of building a smart economy.

Connect with the Smart Farm

To learn more about projects and investment opportunities at the Ottawa Smart Farm, or if you are interested in booking a group tour or hosting an event, please go to Invest Ottawa’s webpage for more information.