The owners of Schuyler Farms were interested in exploring if technology could make their farm more sustainable, by preventing the spread of fungal disease in their apples in order to reduce crop waste and pesticide usage. They asked the research team at the Sensor Systems and Internet of Things (IoT) Lab to help them adopt sensor technology.
Future Ready Challenge
Smart farming is key for the future of agriculture, as it provides the agricultural industry with the infrastructure to leverage advanced technology – including big data, the cloud and the internet of things (IoT) – for tracking, monitoring, automating and analyzing operations.
R & D Collaboration
Schuyler Farms Limited, located in Simcoe, Ontario, produces a diverse number of crops including apples, grains, oil seeds, sour cherries and grass fed lamb. As champions of sustainable agriculture, the farm invests heavily in a number of environmentally friendly, sustainable farming operations, such as strip-tilling and rotational grazing. The owners of the farm were interested in exploring if technology could make their farm more sustainable, by preventing the spread of fungal disease in their apples in order to reduce crop waste and pesticide usage.
Apple scab is a serious fungal disease that infects foliage, blossoms and fruits. Severely infected trees become defoliated and infected fruit are not marketable. The fungus' spread is accelerated by wet and rainy conditions. Schuyler Farms Limited wanted to find a better way to monitor and prevent the spread of the fungus.
Mohawk College's Sensor Systems and Internet of Things (IoT) Lab collaborated with Schuyler Farms to determine if IoT technology could help replace existing manual crop monitoring. The research team developed a software system, using LoRa technology that could be used in conjunction with a number of small localized weather stations. The team installed the IoT solution at the farm, validating the system. These weather stations are able to monitor the moisture levels on the leaves of the apple, calculating the risk of a fungal infection and alerting the farm where and when localized spraying is necessary.
The collaboration with Mohawk College has helped Schuyler Farms Limited improve the quality of their apples, reduce food waste and increase the accuracy and precision of crop monitoring.
“I enjoyed working with Wayne and the students,” says Brett Schyler, owner of Schuyler Farms. “They did a very good job of making the process valuable to our farm and were very aware of the industry needs.”