Plant protein ecosystem partners address lentil concerns through new AI technology

Development of in-field platform will sustainably address diseases of concern in lentil crops

Toronto, Ont., Dec. 06, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, a consortium of partners representing Canada’s agriculture and agrifood sectors are announcing a project to develop artificial intelligence technology to address some of the biggest issues faced by Canada’s lentil growers. With support from Protein Industries Canada, partners Ukko Agro, Hawk’s Agro and Three Farmers will work together to build out an in-field platform to predict and control anthracnose and Ascochyta blight.

“This project demonstrates how Protein Industries Canada is working with partners to leverage AI solutions to transform crop cultivation and strengthen Canada’s global leadership in innovative, data-driven agriculture,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Projects like these show how innovation and AI can address challenges across sectors while supporting a strong economy, build resilient supply chains and promote sustainability.”

By utilizing AI to address the main diseases of concern in lentil crops, the partners will be able to help farmers and agronomists make improved crop management decisions. This can lower input costs, improve disease management and preserve yield potential, all of which help secure Canada’s supply chain for ingredient processors and food manufacturers.

“Consistency of crop and ingredient quality is a key element of strengthening Canada’s domestic food supply chain. Collaboration across the ecosystem is the best way to establish and maintain this consistency in a sustainable manner,” Protein Industries Canada CEO Bill Greuel said. “Together, our project partners are meeting this need, while also addressing major disease concerns for some of Canada’s most widely grown high protein crops. And with the technology’s potential to be expanded to other plant-protein crops in the future, this is a clear demonstration of how one successful cluster project can benefit the full value chain and ecosystem..”

The partners will utilize and build on Ukko Agro’s ForeSite platform to develop and commercialize their AI technology. Once available to farmers, agronomists and retailers, the technology will help improve the sustainability of the sector, increase yields and strengthen the ingredient supply chain.

“We are extremely excited to be a part of this consortium with Hawks Agro, Three Farmers and Protein Industries Canada. Our goal at Ukko Agro is to combine data science with plant science that helps value-chain partners and farmers make more data-informed decisions on application of crop inputs,” Ukko Agro Founder Ketan Kaushish said. “Once commercialized, this project will enable value-chain members to proactively engage with their growers in order to help them grow a better crop, a key to maintaining the Prairies’ leadership position in the pulses market.”

“We are looking forward to being a part of this project. Having predictive modelling we can use with our growers to help make agronomic decisions is a big step forward in improving efficiencies and effectiveness of costly spray applications,” Hawks Agro Director of Business Development Dallas Funke said.

“We are extremely excited to be a part of this consortium with Ukko Agro, Hawks Agro and Protein Industries Canada,” Three Farmers Founder and CEO Natasha Vandenhurk said. “Our goal at Three Farmers is to continue to innovate and grow healthy snacking in Canada, specifically with beans and legumes grown right here on the Prairies. This project is another step in achieving that goal.”

A total of $2.6 million has been committed to the project, with Protein Industries Canada investing $1.2 million and the partners together investing the remainder. Protein Industries Canada’s artificial intelligence stream is funded as part of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, through which the Government of Canada is investing in efforts to drive the adoption of artificial intelligence across Canada's economy and society.

Throughout its first tranche of funding, Protein Industries Canada and its industry partners invested more than $460 million into growing Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredient sector through 55 technology and capacity building projects. The organization’s artificial intelligence stream is expected to complement these projects by helping companies across the ecosystem incorporate AI and ML technology into their work, optimizing their processes and making them more sustainable while improving the functionality, taste and nutrition profiles of Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredients.


About Ukko Agro

Ukko Agro is a leading-edge ag-tech enterprise, dedicated to bringing adaptive, integrated and actionable insights from digitized acres to ag retailers and their grower customers across North America. Their proprietary Field Adaptive and Integrated Modelling (F.A.I.M) platform -- ForeSite™ -- delivers field-specific staging information up to 14 days in advance, suggesting where and when to apply high-value insecticides and fungicides. ForeSite™ uses sophisticated digital data gathering and input technology, proprietary algorithms and modeling to mitigate risk and help farmers get the highest possible returns from their input investments.


About Hawk’s Agro

Hawk’s Agro, a JGL Company, knows a strong business is built on friendly, trustworthy service and loyal, long-term relationships. These values remain at the core of who they are today, so they strive to nourish and grow their relationships with their customers, employees and communities. Over the years, they have grown to include seven locations across Southern Saskatchewan to provide the products, services and expertise to keep you growing.


About Three Farmers

Three Farmers is a producer and provider of pulse and legume-based snacks across North America. Their mission is to connect with consumers by bringing sustainable and quality food products to the marketplace. They are committed to:

  • Producing healthy and wholesome food with natural, quality ingredients.
  • Ensuring products are responsibly and sustainably grown and made.
  • Inviting customers to trace the goodness of their products.
  • Supporting, celebrating and engaging with their communities and neighbours.


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