Olds College is excited to announce that it is the only post-secondary institution in the world to deploy the fully autonomous DOT Power Platform as a teaching and research tool on the College’s Smart Farm. This next generation of ag-technology gives Olds College students one-of-a-kind learning opportunities on commercially available field-scale robotics technology on the College’s Smart Farm. The DOT Autonomous Platform also gives the College an opportunity to conduct future-focused applied research on the environmental, economic and labour benefits of autonomous technology in the ag sector.
Olds College Smart Farm will be operating DOT autonomous equipment in the field for the first time this spring. Part of a three year Smart Farm research project, the College will collect information and observations to understand the benefits and challenges of autonomous agricultural equipment. The project will also measure the economic and environmental footprint of autonomous agricultural equipment.
“We are very excited to start using autonomous equipment on the Smart Farm,” comments Dr. Joy Agnew, Associate Vice President, Applied Research, Olds College. “Our goal is to demonstrate how this leading edge technology works and provide research results for producers to use to make informed decisions about how to incorporate this technology into their own operations. And of course, our students will also benefit from working with and understanding autonomous technology.”
The College will be using the DOT A-U1 mobile diesel power platform, along with the DOT Seeder-SeedMaster Ultra DSR, DOT Sprayer-Pattison Connect, and the DOT-ready New Leader NL5000 nutrient applicator. Diverting from the model of a high-capacity tractor as a power-unit, the DOT power platform is designed for flexibility, efficiency, and scalability to help both small and large farms increase their productivity.
“Being able to provide this kind of cutting-edge technology experience to our students is invaluable,” comments James Benkie, Dean, Werklund School of Agriculture Technology. “The agriculture industry is being transformed by technology and data. Our students will be exposed to the hardware, software, and data needed to integrate, operate and manage the full DOT Autonomous Power Platform on the Olds College Smart Farm, which provides a one-of-a-kind high tech, hands on learning environment.”
The DOT power platform and DOT-ready implements represent a significant first-step towards autonomous commercial agricultural operations. Thanks to research investments from Western Economic Diversification Canada, together with private partners, such as Raven Applied Technology, Olds College is able to deploy the full DOT Power Platform beginning in the spring of 2020.
“A strong and competitive agricultural sector is foundational to western Canada’s economy, and ensuring this sector can benefit from the latest advancements and leading-edge research will help support its continued growth,” said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada. “This is an important milestone for the Olds College Smart Farm—one that could enable producers to soon apply new tools, technologies and processes to further improve their operational efficiency.”
“Pattison Liquid Systems is extremely excited about the relationship established with Olds College,” comments Tim Pattison, Connect Project Lead, Connect by Pattison. “Starting in the 2020 planting season our Connect PLU S120 Dot Ready Sprayer will be used by the College for crop maintenance. This not only brings the excitement of showcasing our sprayer technology on an autonomous platform, but gives us the chance to complete detailed application research, demonstrating the efficiencies and overall benefits of our equipment and autonomous farming as a whole.”
Mr. Pattison adds, “as a producer we feel confident heading into this spring seeding season. By adding our autonomous fleet to our farming operation, we will be able to alleviate some of the pressure placed on the other equipment and operators while simultaneously being able to increase our precision and efficiency.”