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UNB’s McKenna Institute announces investment in digital agriculture led by McCain Foods

This will revolutionize digital agriculture, progress regenerative farming practices and minimize the impact of climate change on farmland.
UNB’s McKenna Institute announces investment in digital agriculture led by McCain Foods

The McKenna Institute at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) is thrilled to announce a landmark investment from a partnership led by McCain Foods and other New Brunswick institutions. Over the next five years, McCain Foods is committing to create a project that imitates farming with regenerative agriculture practices, with the goal of increasing the uptake of more sustainable potato farming, globally. This digital model will act as a simulation for farmers, showcasing the environmental and business impacts of regenerative agriculture. This investment aligns with McCain Foods’ commitment to implement regenerative agriculture across 100 per cent of its global potato acreage by 2030.

Adding to McCain Foods’ substantial contribution, ResearchNB, the Government of New Brunswick’s Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture & Fisheries, and the McKenna Institute are collectively contributing into this. This combined investment marks a pivotal step toward fostering a sustainable, resilient agricultural landscape. This investment will enhance agricultural research at UNB by creating a “digital twin” of McCain’s Farm of the Future in Florenceville, NB. This commercial-scale research farm demonstrates sustainable farming practices, producing positive results on crop yield and quality while prioritizing soil health, water use, biodiversity and climate resilience. Work at the Farm of the Future will reduce the carbon emissions associated with farming while bolstering the resiliency and productivity of the farm.

“A key part of our effort to promote smart and sustainable farming is leveraging technology solutions to help us redefine the way we grow a potato,” says Max Koeune, President & CEO of McCain Foods. “This cutting-edge digital farm model will help potato farmers worldwide adopt practices that help regenerate soils, improve water management and biodiversity, and ensure a resilient farming operation."

A Chair in Digital Agriculture at UNB will be established with high value of the contribution. The Chair will oversee a range of research initiatives that may include digital agriculture, crop simulation modeling, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), sensor data and Internet of Things (IoT) devices to support their initiatives.

“We are pleased to partner with McCain Foods and the Government of New Brunswick on this substantial initiative,” said Dr. Paul J. Mazerolle, President and Vice-Chancellor of UNB. “This investment will strengthen our research in digital agriculture and support our commitment to sustainability by developing practical solutions for the environment and the agricultural community.”

Additionally, the investment will support various academic-led research projects in agricultural science, regenerative agriculture and smart farming practices, utilizing interactive analytics and digital twin technologies.

“New Brunswick agriculture producers need resources to be well-positioned for the future,” said Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries Minister Margaret Johnson. “The Chair in Digital Agriculture will provide the right knowledge and technologies to help New Brunswickers in agriculture increase productivity while minimizing the impact on the environment.”

“ResearchNB is pleased to contribute a high value in funding to support a new Chair in Digital Agriculture at UNB,” said Damon Goodwin, chief executive officer of ResearchNB. “Our province has long attracted top researchers in the agriculture and agri-food sector. We are thrilled to be part of a collaboration that will enhance this legacy through investments in digital agriculture.”

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