Advancing Tech in Saskatchewan Ag: SaskTel and Smart Paddock
Canada’s agriculture industry is a major economic contributor, and Saskatchewan is herding its resources to stay on top. To put it into perspective, annually, the livestock industry contributes more than $13 billion to Canada’s economy in farm cash receipts, and Saskatchewan generates over $2 billion of that total each year.
SaskTel is strongly committed to supporting Saskatchewan’s economy, and that includes helping the agriculture industry move forward with technological advancements. As part of this commitment, on November 8, 2021 SaskTel announced that it signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Smart Paddock, a leader in Australia’s agriculture technology sector specializing in advanced livestock monitoring and GPS tracking solutions.
“SaskTel recognizes the important role agriculture plays in the success of Saskatchewan, and this product will allow us to work on a business model for Canadian market entry,” said Mike Stefaniuk, SaskTel Director – Business Development (IoT and Digital Transformation). “We’re excited to explore opportunities to advance the deployment of smart technologies in Canada’s livestock industry by utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT) and enabling Smart Agriculture. This process involves collecting and analyzing data so that producers can make informed and sustainable farm management decisions that improve productivity and profitability.”
Smart Paddock provides cost-effective solar powered ear tags for cows that give location data and high-level biometric information about the livestock they are attached to. In Saskatchewan, the tags connect via LoRaWAN, one of SaskTel’s recent IoT network investments.
“This technology gives farmers peace of mind knowing that their herd is safe and secure. And, with the value of livestock being so high these days even a loss of a few animals can have a significant impact on the farm’s bottom line.”- Darren Wolchyn, Smart Paddock CEO
LoRaWAN is different from traditional wireless networks that deliver a combination of services such as voice, messaging, and high-capacity data services. It provides data connectivity for hardware that have specific small data needs, such as sensors used by machine-to-machine (M2M) and/or “Internet of Things” (IoT) enabled applications.
“Lost, stray and stolen animals are a constant issue for farmers, especially with remote or very large pastures where the farmer cannot keep a close eye on the herd all the time,” said Darren Wolchyn, CEO of Smart Paddock. “This technology gives farmers peace of mind knowing that their herd is safe and secure. And, with the value of livestock being so high these days even a loss of a few animals can have a significant impact on the farm’s bottom line.”
Where traditional wireless networks like 4G LTE and 5G are extremely oversized for this opportunity, LoRaWAN provides connectivity that is scalable to better meet the needs of IOT. Moving forward, LoRaWAN is a network that will be utilized for more Ag-Tech innovation and Smart City innovations, such as SaskTel’s successful Smart City project in Melfort.
(Photo courtesy of Smart Paddock website)
“The pasturelands in Saskatchewan can be expansive, and that makes LoRaWAN an attractive option for this project,” said Mike. “In Australia, the company sets up a private LoRaWAN themselves for each ranch they service. But here, SaskTel can take care of that for them, reducing one of the biggest barriers to adoption for the service.”
Based on SaskTel’s investment in LoRaWAN and its additional partnership with the University of Saskatchewan Livestock Forage Centre of Excellence (LFCE), SaskTel is an ideal partner for this type of development.
Although not specifically related to this MOU, SaskTel’s relationship with the University of Saskatchewan LFCE will provide a unique venue to evaluate the potential of Smart Paddock’s solution in the Canadian market.
“Things have been developing well with the Smart Farm initiative we are working on with SaskTel,” said Terry Fonstad, Associate Dean – Research and Partnerships at the University of Saskatchewan. “The Smart Paddock product appears to have significant opportunity to transform the way we manage cattle. Cattle are often in remote and rugged areas busy converting grass into protein for people. Care of these animals requires monitoring their location and movement, guiding them to the best forage and protecting them from predators and weather impacts. The Smart Paddock product will enable development of additional IOT technology and provides an opportunity for development of enhancements to the Smart Paddock product itself to enhance our ability to care for these animals.”
SaskTel’s opportunity to sign an MOU with Smart Paddock is just one of many that its Collaboration and Innovation Team is working on to deliver new solutions that provide real value to local businesses and the local economy, beyond revenue generating projects like 5G and fibre broadband.
To learn more about Collaboration and Innovation at SaskTel and other Smart Technology projects please visit: https://www.sasktel.com/business/collaboration-innovation-team/collaboration-innovation-team