From pesticides and fertilizers to water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, farming can put stress on the planet. Agriculture accounted for 8% of Canada’s GHG emissions in 2015, and an even greater proportion of emissions globally.
Yet nobody is more ready to mind the land, cut waste and use resources efficiently than farmers. So Winnipeg-based Farmers Edge set out to develop a solution to help them do exactly that. They did it through data analytics, or what is now being referred to as “precision farming”.
With satellite imagery and data collected from weather stations installed on farms, the company is giving farmers the more granular information they need to increase yields and lower costs, like when to water crops and where exactly to send self-guided seeding tractors. Farmers Edge also provides support for soil sampling, nutrient management, and precision application technologies for fertilizer and water, among other options.
Since 2005, when Manitoba agronomists Wade Barnes and Curtis MacKinnon founded Farmers Edge, the company has attracted tens of millions of dollars in international investment. It also got a boost with $6.1 million in federal funding from Sustainable Development Technology Canada, as well as credit support from Export Development Canada to boost its presence in new markets.
The company secured key funding from Fairfax Financial in 2016, a major Canadian investment giant that has provided the company with the resources necessary for rapid growth and entry into new markets.
After 14 years, the company now employs over 550 people with clients spanning the Canadian prairies and reaching as far as Australia, Brazil, U.S. and Russia. Farmers Edge assists over 24 million product acres worldwide with its services, a number that has been steadily growing every year.
It turns out that Canada is able to export a lot more than its agricultural produce.