Regenerative agriculture takes centre stage in new initiative


Source: BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries

The Government of B.C. is launching a Regenerative Agriculture and Agritech Network (RAAN) that will help farmers adopt the latest technology to increase profitability and environmental sustainability, while strengthening the provincial food system.

To help advance and inform the establishment of the RAAN, the Province will be hosting a virtual agriculture and agritech conference, RegenBC, from Sept. 27-29, 2021. The conference will feature guest speakers and presentations from local and international experts in the private sector and academia, and farmers who are focusing on the adoption of agritech and regenerative agriculture.

“We are working to help farmers harness the latest and best in agri-technology, so farms can adopt or expand regenerative farming practices that are good for the environment and respond to the long-term challenge of climate change,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries. “I’m excited to bring everyone together for our RegenBC conference, so we can hear the various experiences and success stories involving regenerative practices and agritech and learn more about how they can fit into the future of farming in B.C.”

Agritech, such as advancements in robotics and computing, can also help farmers by improving efficiency, reducing labour shortages and strengthening animal-welfare practices.

RAAN will contribute to a more resilient food system and help farmers adapt to and mitigate climate change. Many B.C. farmers are already using these practices to build successful businesses.

In North Saanich, Brackenhurst Farm has successfully implemented new technologies on their dairy farm. These include a robotic milking system for the farm’s 100 cows that is sought out by cows, reduces labour and improves health-safety practices. The farm also has a manure-management system that sustainably recycles nutrients to fertilize grazing land and protects waterways and nearby forested lands.

“My family has been farming for four generations,” said Mickey Aylard, owner, Brackenhurst Farm. “Caring for the land ensures we are able to carry on our family farm legacy. As a young producer, making investments in innovation and technology is key to planning our farm’s future.”

The new network will also support innovation in B.C.’s growing agritech sector. For example, Terramera is a B.C.-based agritech company that has developed machine-visioning software and other advanced technologies to make agriculture more productive, sustainable and regenerative. The RAAN will help them form connections with farmers and bring new opportunities to the agriculture sector.

“Through climate-smart regenerative agriculture, we have a remarkable opportunity to support farmers and bring together solutions inspired by science, technology and farming traditions to address local food security, nutrition, farm profits, resiliency and climate change,” said Karn Manhas, founder and CEO, Terramera. “I am excited about the opportunity the RAAN can create for farmers, rural communities and agritech companies, like Terramera, to come together to create jobs and economic growth while turning back the clock on climate change.”

The RAAN is a mandate commitment for the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.