April 12th, 2024

New program helping female entrepreneurs

By LETHBRIDGE HERALD on February 17, 2021.

When Calgary based companies Jadler Industries and Random Acronym were searching for a place to test out new technology for monitoring soil moisture in agriculture, there was only one place to go: Lethbridge College.
“Lethbridge College has built a reputation with the agriculture industry in southern Alberta for getting their research out into the real world,” says Brad Smith, President of Jadler Industries. “When you tell clients that you’re working with the college, the know exactly what that means.”
The two companies originally collaborated with each other in 2018 to package Jadler’s instrumentation with Random Acronym’s FieldTracker telemetry system for remote field data monitoring. FieldTracker was designed for industrial operations in sectors like oil and gas that require real-time observation and reporting of variables such as flow rate, temperature, water chemistry and water level.
To test if their product could work for the agriculture industry, the partners turned to Lethbridge College’s Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CARIE) and Willemijn Appels, the Mueller Applied Research Chair in Irrigation Science. With funding support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Engage grant, Apples carried out a three-month indoor experiment on a set of experimental soil bins on campus to test the accuracy and reliability of FieldTracker’s data gathering capabilities in an agriculture context.
“Soil moisture observations can significantly increase agriculture water use efficiency and provide important increases in yield and product quality,” says Apples. “We investigated if we could determine plant water use thresholds from the soil moisture series obtained with the FieldTracker device. This has been shown to be possible in natural ecosystems, and we wanted to test it in agricultural settings. We identified three changes to the design and display of the data portal that could help display the data in a more meaningful way for irrigation management.”
For agricultural industry partners, having outside validation is an important step in the product development process.
“The results we’ve seen have shown some of the strengths and some of the shortcomings of the devices we’re using,” says Marlon Fleming, director of Random Acronym. “The project as a whole was successful in that it allowed us to see what we could do differently, and that will help us with our future tests. It will also allow us to get a little bit closer to a real-world deployment of this product.”
Throughout their time working with the team at CARIE, Jadler’s Smith says the partners were pleased with the process and remain open to future collaborations with the college. “We really appreciate how approachable and eager the team at the college way, even though we weren’t necessarily a large-scale project,” says Smith.
“It wasn’t quite as easy as walking in the door and saying, ‘hey I have something I want to try,’ but it was the next closest thing.”
Lethbridge College’s Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a catalyst for economic growth, sustainability and social development in the region. Lethbridge College has been recognized as one of Canada’s fastest-growing research colleges while earning its highest ever placement in the 2020 annual ranking of Canada’s top 50 research colleges, placing 26th and ranked third in research income growth.

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