Government of Canada invests in innovative precision farming to support sustainability in Canada's apple industry
May 19, 2022 – Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Québec – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Today, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced an investment of up to $560,425 for Institut de recherche et de développement en agroenvironnement Inc. (IRDA) to develop a new, integrated system of precision fruit tree farming.
Canadian apple growers operate in a competitive environment and face many challenges including threats from pests and disease, increased frequency of extreme weather events and labour shortages. IRDA is using the funds to pilot and test a system that uses exclusion netting, narrow fruiting walls and mechanized operations.
Adoption of these labour-saving technology and practices as well as improved crop protection methods will help the sector continue to produce high-quality apples while moving toward pesticide-free growing. The project will also help the sector cope with the impacts of extreme weather brought on by climate change and reduce or eliminate the use of most pesticides used in fruit growing.
Precision agriculture is helping farmers better manage their operations and become more efficient and competitive. Investing in innovative precision agriculture tools and cutting-edge approaches is a fundamental way to help the Canadian agricultural sector grow and remain competitive.
By integrating a suite of advanced fruit tree technologies and techniques into one system, IRDA's innovative approach would be a first of its kind in North America. The Government of Canada is committed to investing in innovative and sustainable solutions to help tackle the challenges facing the Canadian apple industry.
"Apples are Canada's second most significant crop in terms of value. In the same project, Institut de recherche et de développement en agroenvironnement is exploring solutions to two major industry issues: labour shortages and pesticide use. The precision agriculture methods being tested could save producers money and make them more resilient to climate change."
- The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
"Through this funding, IRDA and its partners have developed the Orchard of the Future project, where precision agriculture and mechanization will help address the need for healthy and sustainable agriculture. This important project, in partnership with apple growers in Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, confirms IRDA's leadership role in the field of agri-environment."
- Alain Vachon, President and Chief Executive Officer, Institut de recherche et de développement en agroenvironnement Inc.
Apples are Canada's top fruit crop in terms of production volume, representing 43.5 percent of the total production of Canadian fruit in 2020.
The funding announced today is provided through the Canadian Agricultural Strategic Priorities Program (CASPP), a $50.3 million, five-year investment to help the agricultural sector adapt and remain competitive.
Institut de recherche et de développement en agroenvironnement is a research and development institute with a mission to support the development of sustainable agriculture in Québec by fostering innovation and partnerships.
The project will take place in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, Québec at the experimental orchard at Parc National du Mont-Saint-Bruno. At this experimental orchard, IRDA conducts research and development and the transfer of sustainable and environmental solutions in the area of apple farming. This includes insect monitoring, biological pest control, orchard layout, as well as rationalizing the use of and reducing the potential impacts of pesticides.
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