Terramera project highlights latest Agricultural Clean Technology Program funding
A $2M federal investment in the agtech company was announced at its Vancouver headquarters.
Agtech is having one heck of a week, and it's only Wednesday. On the heels of Invest Vancouver’s agtech report and a new partnership between the Province of B.C. and the Netherlands to develop new agri-technologies, the Government of Canada announced $15.2 million in funding for the second wave of the Agricultural Clean Technology Program (ACT). The program grants farmers and agri-businesses access to funding to help develop and adopt the latest clean technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance their competitiveness.
The announcement was held at the headquarters of Vancouver agtech company Terramera, which won $2 million in ACT funding. The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, presented the funding. She was joined by Taleeb Noormohamed, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Granville, and members of the Terramera team.
“Here in B.C., we work closely with our farmers to develop and implement farming practices that sequester carbon and tackle greenhouse gas emissions,” Noormohamed said in a release. “Through investments in local projects, we are enabling the adoption of practices that accelerate reducing emissions in the agricultural sector. Taking immediate action against climate change is key to exceeding Canada’s 2030 emission reductions target and setting the foundation for a net-zero emissions economy by 2050.”
This sentiment to take immediate action was echoed by Bibeau. “Our farmers are the first ones to be impacted by climate change and extreme weather. For generations they have been committed to do their best with the knowledge they had, and technology they had. We want to invest so we can learn more about the best practices, share this information, stimulate the development of new technologies and make those affordable. This will ensure Canada remains a leader in sustainable agriculture,” she tells Vancouver Tech Journal.
Bibeau explained that ACT funding is divided into a pair of streams. The first, “adoption”, supports farmers so they can afford to start using technology. The second stream, “research and innovation”, is made for agtech and cleantech companies to boost their product development. Terramera is one of just three companies to receive funding in this stream, and the lone British Columbian business. Yet, close to home, four other projects received funding through the “adoption” stream this wave:
Delta’s Camirlaney Farms received $49,750 to purchase precision agriculture technology.
Abbotsford’s Cedar Grove Farms (operating as Paragon Farms) received $46,000 to install a bioeconomy solution.
White Rock’s Eclipse Farms received $160,256 to install a biomass boiler.
Mill Bay’s JTL Cattle Company received $48,176 for fuel switching.
Bibeau estimates that the Canadian government has invested $1.5 billion dollars in agri-environmental programming. A lot of these, as evidenced by the projects from B.C., are in place to support farmers to adopt better practices and better technologies. But one challenge Bibeau cites is how to determine their results. “How do we measure carbon sequestration?” she pondered at the event. “How do we measure how our efforts are reducing our emissions?”
This is where Terramera comes in. The company is crafting innovation that monitors soil. The influx of cash will be used to propel Terramera’s tech to estimate carbon levels. Chief Technology Officer Dr. Travis Good plants the seeds nicely. “[We’re] measuring soil in a low cost, highly accurate fashion. We’re excited to develop something that can, for the first time, institute highly accurate results in near real time.”
Good and his colleagues first became aware of the potential of ACT funding a few months ago and roughly 20 members of the team across multiple departments worked on the multi-step application.
“Thank you to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and the Agricultural Clean Technology Program for this important funding,” said Karn Manhas, Terramera’s founder and CEO. “Terramera investing in soil health and climate-smart regenerative agriculture is one of the most important issues for Canada and the world. Soil is critical to food production and farming. Improving soil health and carbon in soils helps lower costs of inputs while improving outputs and nutrition, which means higher profits for farmers. This is a key opportunity to strengthen our economy, and our food security as a nation."
It certainly appeared to catch Bibeau’s eye, who reached out to the company to host the announcement while she was in Vancouver. “This technology is absolutely incredible and it will be so helpful. I can already see that it could be used for other, different challenges that we are facing,” she said with enthusiasm.
For Bibeau, the impressive nature of Terramera’s output reflects the strength of agtech and cleantech province-wide. “B.C. is one of the leaders across the country. There are a lot of SMBs here and you can really tell that they care – that they are dedicated to not only feeding people but making sure it’s sustainable and that we are leading at the world stage.”
Here at Vancouver Tech Journal, we can’t wait to see what agtech advancements happen through Friday, if the first few days of this week are any indication.
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