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Trimble’s Darryl Matthews sheds light on the future of Canadian agrifood innovation

February 01, 2022

The farmer is at the center of everything that Trimble does, inspiring innovation and ever-improving technology to support them.

Last week, Trimble Natural Resources senior VP Darryl Matthews sat down with John Hartnett, founder and CEO of THRIVE Ventures as part of the THRIVE-SVG Ventures series: Spotlight on Canadian AgriFood Innovation. The two discussed the future of farming in Canada and Matthews shared his insights on the importance of innovation in the agrifood sector and how it will affect farmers in the coming years.

Technology in Agriculture

“The work that [farmers] do is dependent on making the right decisions … so it’s critical that they make small incremental bets and small incremental changes,” said Matthews. 

“Trimble’s goal is to help farmers mitigate and manage risk through easy-to-use, innovative technology – technology built with farmers in mind.  “The technology needs to fit into their way of life and the agricultural environment.”

Matthews recognizes that farmers are passionate about their life’s work, and want to spend their time doing what matters: be outside on the farm, manage their business in an entrepreneurial way, and feed the population.

“They’re the real lifeblood of the Canadian agriculture industry.”

Easier Farming with Precision 

Trimble is dedicated to creating technology that makes farmers’ lives easier and brings them a good return on their investment.

As an industry, he noted, it’s essential to create technology that fits into these key values. “We need to think about the way they operate their farm and the way they want to live their life.”

The Future of Farming 

The next decade has a lot of exciting developments ahead for the world of agriculture – in Canada and beyond. According to Matthews, there are a variety of factors that will influence the course of these changes, too. Here’s a breakdown of the main factors he sees affecting farming in the coming years:

1. Changing diet

The population’s evolving dietary preferences are something that will continue to greatly affect farming. 

“This can be looked at as something that is an attack on the farm or something as an opportunity,” said Matthews. 

He advised that farmers and tech leaders alike need to look at the consumers to truly understand what they want and are willing to pay for. It would behoove farmers to keep an eye on dietary trends to stay in tune with in-demand crops. “We want to give the farmer a premium to deliver the product the consumer wants.”

2. Artificial intelligence

No, farmers won’t be replaced by robots. But innovative technology can help them farm easier. Matthews describes artificial intelligence in farming as the next step from machine learning.

“We’re looking at creating technologies for maximum field performance,” Matthews explained.  

Artificial intelligence will help machines learn the ins and outs of farming activities to where the machine will begin to react to what it’s seeing and learning.

“It could give us the capability for a machine to start to distinguish the color of a berry, or that there is an unsafe environment. That’s when AI and things will start to become innovative and start to become accepted by humans.

3. Early automation

In its early stages, automation in farming includes a variety of activities that can be supported or carried out by machines. Matthews believes that this automation process will eventually move to autonomy.

One example of this early automation is path planning, where a farmer goes into the field to harvest but would have the added support of an algorithm that provides information on the best way to improve efficiency and carry out fieldwork. The core of this automation is that it must integrate with the way farmers work, which is why Trimble Ag is dedicated to making farmers’ lives easier with precision ag technology.

Click here to watch the full recording of THRIVE-SVG Ventures: Spotlight on Canadian AgriFood Innovation with Trimble Natural Resources senior Vice President Darryl Matthews (starts at 48:00). To learn more about how Trimble’s industry-leading precision ag solutions can improve your farm efficiency, connect with your local Trimble reseller today.