Two Lakeland College research efforts are moving forward with Alberta Innovates funding support.
The innovator is contributing a total of $497,600 for the college’s two projects.
Lakeland researcher Dr. Susan Markus’ project investigating the use of handheld devices for
automatic blood analysis to check sheep pregnancy and predict litter size was awarded $145,000.
She says the funding will help them apply their lab research to real life situations in the field.
“We know on the farm there’s things like humidity and dust and other issues that come up when you are working with livestock and so to get something that works in a lab to work equally as well on the farm; shute side is the critical piece that Alberta Innovates is going to fund us for.”
The second research project is by Dr. Yuri Montanholi where they are optimizing non-contact sensor technologies to monitor bison. That project was awarded $345,081.
They seek to reduce the need to have to handle an animal like bison by using a surveillance system involving cameras as well as laser and thermal imaging to find out about their behaviour, health, welfare, growth, performance and even to measure weight.
Montanholi says their innovations are specifically to address the challenges of working with bison.
“Handling bison is not as easy as handling cattle. Every time that you need to run the animals through the shute, that creates distress to the animal, that can compromise the performance, sometimes the animal can be injured or even risk to people handling them.”
Montanholi says their research is moving forward with involvement of both students and bison producers.
Overall, the funds are part of the Smart Agriculture and Food Digitization and Automation Challenge (SAFDAC), which awarded $3.19 million to 10 new smart-ag and food projects.