Saskatchewan has a rich history in agriculture and a bright future in agtech. With over 18.6 million hectares of sustainable agricultural farmland, a world-class technology hub, exceptional research communities and a supportive government that fosters innovation, Saskatchewan is the place to lead the growth of agtech globally.
We spoke with some of the Saskatchewan companies that are accelerating tech in smart farm equipment, agri-food supply chain, digital agriculture spaces and more and helping the province emerge as a global leader in agtech innovation and investment opportunity.
Read more to learn more about Ground Truth Ag, VeriGrain, Carbon RX, Environmental Material Science (EMS) and Super GeoAI Technology (SGA), their unique solutions and what’s on the horizon for Saskatchewan agtech.
What unique technology and solution does your company provide to the agriculture ecosystem?
Kyle Folk, CEO, Ground Truth Ag: Ground Truth Agriculture Inc. is an exciting new Saskatchewan agtech company specializing in real-time grain quality data. Following harvest, a grain producer’s profits are dependent on both quantity and quality of their crop. While quantity is easily measured, the process of grading to determine grain quality is out of the producer’s control, and based on assumptions made from tiny samples. This process leaves producers with an inaccurate representation of their overall business situation.
At Ground Truth Ag, we believe that marketing and precision ag decisions should not be based on partial information. Ground Truth Ag’s solution will provide producers with the grain quality details they need to make informed decisions for their business. Our product will be mounted directly on the combine to provide real-time, thorough, geo-located grain quality data.
Ken Jackson, CEO, VeriGrain: VeriGrain provides the most accurate and real-time on-farm stored grain quality and quantity information available. We do this by enhanced sample acquisition and data management as grain is loaded into and out of storage. Growers know exactly what they have and can get the most for it. Buyers receive what they purchased, reduce costs and have traceability. Consumers get more and better food.
Marty Seymour, CEO, Carbon RX: Carbon RX is the centralizing agent aggregating and sensemaking agriculture technologies for the purposes of measuring the positive impact modern farming has on climate change.
Steven Siciliano, CEO, EMS: EMS has a soil sensor platform designed for broadacre fertilizer management. Our sensors can help producers and distributors optimize their nutrient stewardship by providing within season and between season information on soil moisture, salinity, temperature, and biological activities. EMS’s data stream is designed to work seamlessly with Holos 4.0 to allow producers to calculate C-Sequestration and GHG emissions at the farm level.
Weiping Zeng, CEO, SGA: Many activities required for wheat production rely on laborious manual observation, such as post-harvest assessment of wheat kernels, in-season crop yield and growth stage estimation, and detection of wheat diseases and pests. These manual, subjective tasks can be costly, unreliable, and inaccurate. Regardless, they are essential to the success of farmers, breeders, researchers, and buyers of wheat alike.
SGA is developing geospatial artificial intelligence (GeoAI) applications to automate the laborious, manual observations of wheat production. Through computer vision and GeoAI, SGA automates the subjective, costly, unreliable, and inaccurate tasks of wheat kernel post-harvest assessment and in-season wheat yield and growth stage estimation. SGA's solution can, on average, reduce grain grading time by 10X, and crop yield estimation time by 20X. SGA has trained novel GeoAI algorithms with massive quantities of high-quality local wheat data to significantly improve accuracy.
We’re proud your company is a SK success story! Why is Saskatchewan a great place to start an agtech company and what impact has the province had on your success?
Kyle Folk, CEO, Ground Truth Ag: Saskatchewan is ground zero for agtech. You can’t go to The Home Depot, Wal-Mart or a kid’s sporting event without overhearing someone talking about their farm. When you grow up in a farming family like I did and are exposed to it everywhere you go it becomes part of you. The fact that I can have more willing test farms within an hour of my home than I can utilize says a lot of our province and its community-minded approach. I built and exited a successful agtech company in Saskatchewan once before, and I have chosen to do it again in this province because we embrace our roots and this is where agriculture lives.
Ken Jackson, CEO, VeriGrain: Saskatchewan has a decades-long history of innovation in agriculture which has resulted in many industry-leading products, practices and companies. It is an ideal location to develop and pilot new products. The province’s financial support has helped VeriGrain to raise capital and develop technology and products. This has contributed to VeriGrain receiving multiple national and international awards for innovative new technology and products that provide a significant positive benefit to the agriculture sector and food chain.
Marty Seymour, CEO, Carbon RX: The Saskatchewan agtech sector is a small ecosystem. It’s the perfect place to grow and scale an agtech enterprise because of the tight network and synergistic collaborations. Large, progressive technology-friendly farms allow testing of new products and commercialization faster than most markets.
Steven Siciliano, CEO, EMS: Saskatchewan has the best Soil Science department in Canada, and the expertise of the Agriculture Development Fund Ag-Chairs provides agtech companies in the province with in-depth knowledge of market conditions and practical information on how to create technology that will make a difference.
Weiping Zeng, CEO, SGA: Saskatchewan is home to more than 40% of Canada’s cultivated farmland, making it among the most productive farmland in the world. Saskatchewan farmers embrace locally developed agtech, making it a great place to test and validate agtech products for early adopters. As the province of Saskatchewan supports agtech startups with the Agtech Growth Fund (AGF), Co.Labs, and Cultivator, it is a great place to start an agtech company.
The AGF program and Co.Labs have enabled SGA to raise more than $2 million from our private partners and not-for-profit organizations. SGA has grown from 1 employee to 12 employees, and expects to have 20 employees by the end of 2023.
What exciting things can we look forward to in the future from your company?
Kyle Folk, CEO, Ground Truth Ag: Making a difference in how things have been done for the past 100 years in agriculture. The grading process has remained relatively the same for the last century, but farming practices have not, so we are overdue for a change. Consumers continually demand more transparency, and the supply chain is more fragile than it has ever been. Our system will help on both of those fronts while still providing tremendous value to farmers.
Ken Jackson, CEO, VeriGrain: VeriGrain’s latest step toward growers and buyers having more accurate stored grain quality and quantity information sooner is a new automated sampling product that also measures moisture and temperature. This not only provides more accurate grain characteristics information, it eliminates grain spoilage and allows more optimal grain blending for maximum prices. We plan to add real-time grain characteristics analysis in the near future.
Marty Seymour, CEO, Carbon RX: Carbon RX will bring new carbon capture protocols using the latest farming practices to the market to create a stable and lasting carbon economy for farms of all sizes.
Steven Siciliano, CEO, EMS: Currently EMS has saved our remediation customers millions of dollars, diverted enormous amounts of soil from the landfill, and saved enough water to fill 2,000 Olympic swimming pools. Our sensors will help farmers make more money by reducing input costs while maintaining or increasing yields. In a few years, EMS will be able to talk about the millions of extra dollars generated for farmers while also improving soil health. One day, we hope that every acre of farmland will have a sensor in it, enabling farmers, ranchers and foresters to experiment with the innovative ideas and approaches that they excel at.
Weiping Zeng, CEO, SGA: For many years, the grain industry has sought an affordable solution that can deliver quick and accurate end-use quality assessments based on representative samples. SGA aims to bring the long sought-after grain grading solution to reality.
In-season crop yield and growth stage are still being estimated manually. These estimations are time consuming and highly inaccurate. SGA is developing GeoAI-driven applications that will automate these tasks. SGA aims to provide the world's first "hands free" crop-yield and growth stage estimation technology.
Learn more about the Agtech Growth Fund! The Agtech Growth Fund is an R&D funding program designed to help you accelerate the commercialization of your technology for the agricultural sector. The Agtech Growth Fund has supported numerous Saskatchewan startups like Precision AI, Croptimistic, Environmental Material Sciences and many more to address industry-specific challenges with their game-changing technological innovations. Our spring intake period is now open and the deadline for EOIs is April 30. Apply today!