September 21, 2023

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The Transformative Seven: Applied sciences that may drive Canada’s subsequent inexperienced revolution

The Transformative Seven: Applied sciences that may drive Canada’s subsequent inexperienced revolution

The Transformative Seven: Applied sciences that may drive Canada’s subsequent inexperienced revolution

Why we wrote this

Canada wants to guide the world in web zero agriculture, and our organizations need to play a constructive position in that journey.

To do this, we’ve launched into a long-term analysis challenge, rooted in our foundational report, The Subsequent Inexperienced Revolution. We’re following that up with a collection of smaller reviews, to discover the alternatives in coverage, human capital, monetary capital and expertise. None of those are a panacea, however in combination, the themes and analysis will help get us nearer to our shared objective of a extra sustainable meals system.

This report, focussed on ag-tech, exhibits the alternatives {that a} vary of applied sciences current to Canada―and in addition the necessity for our nation to be strategic in our strategy. Our group analyzed funding knowledge, sector pathways, and the affect of public coverage, each in Canada and different nations. We additionally labored with the Artistic Destruction Lab’s ag-tech program, primarily based in Calgary, to achieve insights into the expertise of entrepreneurs.

Canada has a historical past of manufacturing groundbreaking analysis and growth, a vigorous ecosystem of startups, and a deep expertise pool that features tech-savvy farmers, world-class scientists and inventive agri-entrepreneurs. We additionally perceive the crucial to advance a simply transition by means of expertise quite than pursuing applied sciences for their very own sake.

Innovation will probably be key to the low carbon, sustainable meals techniques of the longer term. That is Canada’s second to unlock it.

    John Stackhouse, Senior Vice President, RBC Economics and Thought Management
    Keith Halliday, Senior Director, BCG Centre for Canada’s Future
    Evan Fraser, Senior Director, Arrell Meals Institute on the College of Guelph

Key findings

A brand new technology of agricultural applied sciences may assist lower potential 2050 emissions from Canada’s agriculture sector by as much as 40%.

Seven particular applied sciences maintain distinctive energy to kickstart the nation’s transformation to a low carbon agricultural producer: precision applied sciences; carbon seize, utilization, and storage techniques; anaerobic digesters; managed surroundings farming; livestock feed components; agriculture biotechnology; and mobile agriculture.

However Canada’s share of worldwide funding in these applied sciences is inadequate. And most agricultural R&D funding continues to be drawn overwhelmingly from the general public sector.

Producers, notably these with small and medium-sized companies, additionally face quite a few key challenges in adopting these applied sciences (together with value and infrastructure). Entrepreneurs, too, will want assist in scaling their improvements.

By leaning on its current strengths, Canada can turn into a frontrunner in growing rising ag-techs that can outline the way forward for international meals techniques.

Canada can lead in a brand new world of agricultural expertise

Think about a bumper crop of wheat grown fully with out chemical fertilizers and utilizing practices that regenerate the soil. Or a swarm of drones that use synthetic intelligence to establish each plant in a subject, sniping solely the weeds with a precision spray. Or a recent slice of salmon sashimi that was grown in a bioreactor, not caught from the ocean.

These are among the many game-changing applied sciences enabling the Subsequent Inexperienced Revolution in agriculture. Like improvements that got here earlier than them, they’re accelerating productiveness to assist feed a rising international inhabitants. However they’re additionally enjoying a vital new position: decreasing agricultural emissions and enabling soil to soak up greenhouse fuel emissions.

Whereas agriculture produces 10% of our nationwide GHGs yearly, its core uncooked supplies—soil, crops, and animals—additionally maintain virtually unequalled energy to drag emissions out of the ambiance, the place they contribute to local weather change.

Unlocking that energy, and slicing current emissions, will rely upon many issues: together with supportive coverage, a well-trained workforce, and financing. Critically, this transformation can even hinge on expertise—and our success in each growing it by means of accountable innovation and placing it to work to assist the economic system, the surroundings and particular person farm operators. In earlier analysis, we discovered that technological options may play a significant position in slicing as much as 40% of potential 2050 emissions from Canada’s agricultural sector.1

As a prime exporter of key crops, with broad market entry and a deep historical past of agricultural innovation, Canada is extraordinarily well-positioned to not simply lead the world within the adoption of those ag-techs however within the growth of them. By partaking various actors within the Canadian meals system, we will develop applied sciences which might be accountable, artistic, and environment friendly. Certainly, given our benefits, this chance is ours to lose.

We’ve recognized seven key improvements or “ag-techs” we imagine can each meaningfully scale back emissions and current alternatives for Canada to guide. Some, like anaerobic digesters, carbon seize utilization and storage (CCUS) and precision expertise are prepared and beginning to scale now. Others, like vertical farms and plant science will probably be key options within the medium time period. Nonetheless others, like mobile agriculture and precision fermentation, may rework the meals techniques of the longer term.

In each case, maximizing the potential of those improvements means constructing the appropriate platforms for collaboration amongst not simply farmers and entrepreneurs, however communities, traders, companies, social enterprises, and governments. It’ll imply proving to farmers of all kinds that sizeable upfront investments in additional confirmed ag-techs are value it whereas de-risking their leaps of religion into rising applied sciences. We have to additionally watch out that these instruments, lots of that are capital intensive, don’t damage smaller and medium-sized enterprises and producers and that they’re really deployed to assist Canada obtain each our emission targets and drive a inexperienced financial transition.

Doing this may imply accelerating funding in analysis and growth—notably amongst personal actors—and directing extra of it towards the applied sciences that may do essentially the most to chop emissions now. Because it stands, most ag-tech investments in Canada are targeted on productiveness enhancing digitization and automation, which assist enhance yields and enhance farm operations. We want extra funding in innovation to advance sustainable and regenerative farming.

Canada’s share of worldwide funding for many key applied sciences is low

International enterprise capital and personal fairness funding in ag-tech since 2017

Able to scale: These applied sciences are already enjoying a task in our effort to cut back emissions in agriculture. They’re developed and commercially out there, however require the appropriate incentives, financing, and coverage assist to be adopted and scaled.

On observe: These applied sciences are nonetheless thought-about nascent, although they’re commercially out there. They’ve sturdy potential to assist Canada adapt to the results of local weather change and/or scale back emissions, however nonetheless require additional growth and development.

Least prepared: These applied sciences are largely within the R&D stage and usually not but commercially out there (at the very least in Canada). They’ve immense potential to rework the sector and construct on current Canadian strengths and sources.

Mobilizing personal funding is essential to competing on the worldwide stage

Canadian agricultural improvements might be discovered on fields around the globe, from canola seeds invented by Prairie scientists to grain augers first imagined in Manitoba. But as we transfer into a brand new period of low emissions agriculture, a lot of our potential to construct on this energy—utilizing newfound benefits unlocked by synthetic intelligence and knowledge science—stays untapped.

Agriculture has outpaced different Canadian sectors in funding over the past variety of years—a constructive signal suggesting each productiveness and rising home demand for equipment and gear with extra expertise embedded in it. However main the world on this house calls for extra funding, notably from the personal sector. For generations, Canadian agricultural analysis and growth has been overwhelmingly fuelled by public {dollars}. During the last decade, the general public sector accounted for as a lot as 90% of agricultural R&D, in comparison with about 30% in the US.2

Meantime, Canadian agricultural startups and personal firms have lagged worldwide friends in drawing personal funding. Of roughly US$36 billion in international enterprise capital and personal fairness investments in ag-tech since 2017, Canada obtained simply 3%, or US$1 billion. The U.S. captured US$20 billion or 55%.

Canadian agriculture companies have grown their R&D budgets considerably—at the very least doubling them from 2015 ranges lately. However they nonetheless fall far wanting Canadian public R&D funding, which steadily declined as a p.c of GDP for the reason that Nineteen Eighties. As governments in peer nations just like the U.S. and Europe speed up public spending on sustainable agriculture (for instance through the Inflation Discount Act, and the European Inexperienced Deal), Canada dangers falling even additional behind. It’s crucial for Canada to maintain tempo on incentives to keep away from putting our producers and corporations at a drawback or inflicting a mind drain to different nations. To compete, we’ll want governments to shift extra assist to on-farm implementation and uptake of ag-tech regenerative agriculture practices.

And we’ll want companies to drive extra funding—notably within the applied sciences that maintain essentially the most promise to maneuver the needle on local weather change.

Agrifood funding has outpaced different industries in Canada

The worldwide race to create the following technology of ag-tech is heating up


Israel, a small nation with little arable land, is already the worldwide chief in digital fertigation. This method employs sensors and cloud-based analytics to find out the focused launch of water and fertilizer immediately onto a plant’s roots. Extra lately, the nation has expanded its agricultural focus to develop capabilities in vertical farming and various proteins. Israeli firms are main the world in funding in plant-based proteins, drawing US$160 million as of the primary half of 2022—22% of all funds globally. Funding in novel protein extra broadly is the second largest globally, together with for classy meats (US$320 million as of the primary half of 2022).3 The business grew 160% within the first half of 2022 with greater than 100 Israeli firms specializing in novel proteins (and greater than 11 of those created between 2021 and 2022 alone). Israel devotes 17% of agricultural spending to analysis and growth.


Lower than 1% of Singapore’s land is arable, however that hasn’t stopped it from setting formidable agriculture targets. The nation’s “30 by 30” objective goals to cut back its dependence on meals imports by growing home meals manufacturing to 30% of demand by 2030. As a part of this, the federal government is offering funding to assist farmers improve gear and check new expertise on their farms, whereas additionally supporting innovation and ag-tech growth. Singapore has clear strengths in city and managed surroundings farming (e.g., vertical farms, contained fish farms, and indoor farm factories that use AI and large knowledge to maximise effectivity), and has extra lately emerged as a hub for the event and regulation of different proteins.4 In 2019, Singapore introduced a regulatory framework for the pre-market evaluation of novel meals and is working with private and non-private sector organizations to assist development of mobile agriculture startups. It was the primary nation to approve cell-cultured meat for human consumption in December 2020 and is residence to greater than 20 cell-based meat producers.


Disaster drives innovation. After the 2011 tsunami and Fukushima nuclear catastrophe destroyed most close by farmland, the Japanese authorities jumpstarted a vertical farm constructing increase to exchange misplaced manufacturing. Right this moment, Japan has greater than 300 vertical farms—powered by robotic automation and sensible expertise—to assist preserve its home provide of meals, which can be more and more challenged by the nation’s growing old inhabitants and migration to cities (inflicting abandonment of farmland).5 The federal government’s 2020 Setting Innovation Technique goals to develop climate-smart applied sciences, together with by means of new breeding varieties that scale back CH4 and N2O emissions from agriculture and livestock.

The Netherlands

Regardless of its smaller measurement, the Netherlands is the world’s second largest meals exporter in greenback worth behind the U.S. An agri-food powerhouse, the nation excels at digitizing its greenhouses and fields with sensible applied sciences. Dutch greenhouses, which account for 80% of cultivated land within the Netherlands, are among the many most superior on this planet. Extra lately, the Netherlands has emerged as a frontrunner in plant-based meals merchandise, pushed largely by improvements from Wageningen College and Analysis Centre. The college is the main analysis hub for the Dutch meals business and also known as “Meals Valley” or the “Silicon Valley of Meals.” Dwelling to a US$94 million plant-based meals innovation centre, Wageningen College works with startups and researchers to develop new vegan merchandise. Almost 200 agri-food firms are current inside a 10-km radius of the college, making a dense community of collaboration between the private and non-private sectors. There are greater than 60 firms and analysis establishments targeted on plant-based protein within the nation.6

The Transformative Seven

Constructing a low carbon agriculture sector will probably be a problem not like any we’ve confronted. The excellent news is we’ve highly effective expertise to assist us do it. We’ve recognized seven improvements that, if utilized in a manner that’s equitable and supported by producers and communities, maintain essentially the most promise to chop emissions and retailer or sequester them in soil.

A lot stays open to debate. Regardless of how highly effective the potential of a expertise is, it’s by no means a panacea, and must be adopted by producers, accepted by customers, and supported by coverage. Too typically prior to now promising technological improvements have additionally damage communities. Contemplating these tensions, our objective right here is to put out the potential of those improvements to chop emissions in Canada and use this evaluation as a lead as much as successive phases of this collaborative challenge, the place we are going to street check concepts with a spread of teams and communities throughout Canada.

Boosting funding within the applied sciences we’ve recognized will probably be key to realizing their potential. Collectively, RBC, BCG Centre for Development and Innovation Analytics and Arrell Meals Institute gathered the very best out there knowledge on present funding ranges. Nonetheless, a lot of this knowledge stays inadequate or undisclosed. Establishing higher transparency on this enviornment will probably be vital to monitoring our progress going ahead.

The Drawback

When utilized to fields, nitrogen fertilizer is a key explanation for emissions. Moreover, tilling or ploughing the soil churns up carbon saved inside it, releasing it into the ambiance the place it contributes to local weather change.

The Resolution

Precision applied sciences like sensible tractors collect knowledge on farm productiveness and fertilizer use to empower higher, extra granular choices about the place to make use of inputs and in what portions. Different instruments like air seeders and soil sensors can allow farmers to seed and fertilize land with precision, and allow regenerative agriculture practices like lowered tillage that defend soil high quality and biodiversity. At the moment 13MT of carbon is saved in Canadian soil. Our analysis means that by embracing this expertise in addition to regenerative agriculture practices, an extra 21MT of carbon might be saved in soil by 2050.

Canadian farmers have made strides in adopting some precision applied sciences. In Saskatchewan, as an illustration, adoption of precision tech has helped 80% of farmers use no-till or conservation tillage. And auto-steering for tractors has been a mainstay on farms for many years. However larger adoption of subsequent technology instruments that incorporate superior expertise like synthetic intelligence and automatic robotics—powered by knowledge—may take precision farming to a different stage.

The Challenges

Canada lags the worldwide common in funding in precision agricultural expertise and there are a selection of limitations to adoption amongst producers. To catch up, it should persuade farmers that these subsequent technology instruments will work on their farms. Personal and public sectors will help show the advantages by establishing sponsored subject trials, by organising carbon markets and by offering the information factors and proof essential to show the expertise’s worth to farmers. Defending that farm knowledge can even be key. Given the variance of soil high quality and make-up throughout the nation, farmers usually tend to belief demonstrations when they’re near their very own operations.

Canadian highlight

Precision AI produces synthetic intelligence-powered drones with onboard pc imaginative and prescient that enable granular choices to be made on the farm. Its drones can establish each plant species it sees on the sector, and might goal weeds with precision spraying, thereby decreasing the usage of chemical compounds by as much as 95%. Based in Regina, Saskatchewan in 2017, the corporate has grown to over 40 full time workers globally and raised $20 million in seed funding in 2021.

The Drawback

The manufacturing of nitrogen fertilizer—key to the increase in yields in current many years—entails the combustion of pure fuel and its conversion into hydrogen. Each processes create giant quantities of carbon dioxide which might be emitted into the ambiance the place they contribute to local weather change. Our estimates recommend fertilizer manufacturing emits 12 MT of emissions yearly. With out change, emissions will rise to 35MT by 2050.

The Resolution

Carbon seize, utilization, and storage techniques (CCUS) lure carbon dioxide emissions earlier than they enter the ambiance, reuse them or compress them into liquid that’s then shipped through pipeline to a storage facility. CCUS has the potential to seize and retailer 7MT of emissions by 2050.

Since 2019, Saskatoon-based Nutrien has been utilizing CCUS to seize carbon dioxide from its Redwater plant. This liquid CO2 is then moved through the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line to grease restoration initiatives in central Alberta. Nutrien despatched roughly 139,000 tonnes of CO2 through this route in 2021.7 However past this, CCUS shouldn’t be broadly utilized within the Canadian fertilizer business. And globally, simply six fertilizer amenities use this expertise.8

The Challenges

To allow widespread adoption of CCUS in fertilizer manufacturing, extra infrastructure is essential. This contains carbon sequestration hubs and extensions of current trunk strains to cut back the monetary limitations confronted by manufacturing amenities. To offer this, we’ll want higher coordination throughout a spread of governments, regulators, and business. Entry to geological house for storing carbon, allowing for main initiatives, authorized legal responsibility, and different complicated technical facets of those initiatives want a cohesive regulatory framework if we’re to extend deployment of capital in carbon seize.

Canadian highlight

Headquartered in Vancouver, B.C., Svante’s expertise permits CO2 to be purified and concentrated inside 60 seconds. This strategy focuses on separating CO2 from nitrogen. Dilute flue fuel (generated in industries like metal and oil and fuel) is diverted to a repeatedly rotating platform the place the CO2 is trapped inside proprietary filters produced from nano supplies with a excessive capability for CO2 seize. It’s then purified and prepared for storage. The corporate’s first industrial pilot check plant in Saskatchewan, in partnership with Husky Power (now Cenovus Power), is ready to seize 10,000+ tonnes of CO2 per yr. With decrease capital prices than different current options, this expertise makes large-scale business carbon seize attainable.

The Drawback

The meals that goes into livestock should additionally come out, which creates methane emissions of about 8 MT per yr in Canada, based on our analysis. With out change, these emissions from manure will rise to 10MT by 2050.

The Resolution

Anaerobic digesters flip methane captured from manure (from cows in addition to pigs, chickens, and different ruminant animals) and off-farm natural waste like crop residue, meals waste and silage into renewable pure fuel, biogas and electrical energy. Digestate, a byproduct, may also be used as an natural fertilizer on fields or as dairy bedding. Anaerobic digesters have the potential to chop emissions by 2MT by 2050.

Canada has 279 biogas initiatives which might be remodeling methane into 196 MW of fresh electrical energy and 6 million GJ of Renewable Pure Fuel (RNG)— the equal of greater than 9 giant hydro dams. And with simply 45 operational digesters within the Canadian agriculture sector as of 2020, essentially the most important potential for the expertise’s development is on the farm.9 On-farm anaerobic digesters additionally add one other income stream for farmers keen and in a position to undertake a challenge on their land.

In Canada, biogas growth (together with anaerobic digesters) has been pushed by provincial vitality and waste administration insurance policies. There’s large alternative for development, particularly in agriculture, the place crop residues and animal manure make up two-thirds of Canada’s simply out there biogas sources. Along with on-farm crops, group digesters have been touted as a pathway to development, the place their use and prices might be break up amongst a number of farms and probably even native municipalities.

The Challenges

However funding and growth up to now is anemic, with simply 29 initiatives underway. (Information on investments in anaerobic digester growth can be fairly sparse). The excessive prices for constructing these amenities (within the tens of thousands and thousands per facility, relying on the scale) are a barrier. Whereas there are important tailwinds for the business, together with from authorities insurance policies just like the clear gas rules and offset markets, larger demand for biofuels and derisking buildings like energy buy agreements can even must be developed.

Canadian highlight

DLS Biogas builds biogas crops full with distant monitoring capabilities. Biogas crops take natural waste (together with manure), seize the methane, and rework it into renewable pure fuel, electrical energy, and digestate. As a part of its service providing, DLS Biogas offers feasibility and monetary evaluation, planning and development administration, and full-service operational assist for farmers. The Ontario-based firm is a part of the Dairy Lane Programs household of firms, which has supplied milking gear and different providers to dairy farmers for greater than 30 years.

The Drawback

Typical subject farming produces emissions by means of fertilizer software. Emissions are additionally created when land is transformed to farming, and when meals is transported from the sector to the grocery retailer. Managed surroundings farming has the potential to assist change the sample of land use change, which if left unaltered, will rise from 4MT to 24MT by 2050.

The Resolution

Greenhouses and vertical farms are the very best recognized examples of managed surroundings farming, which describes the manufacturing of meals in an indoor surroundings. Vertical farms develop meals indoors in stacked layers.

Vertical farming makes use of solely 10% of the land and requires as much as 90% much less water than typical farming.10 It will probably additionally create a secure, native provide of vegetables and fruit, slicing the necessity for emissions-intensive transportation, and enhancing home meals safety. When powered and heated with fossil fuels like propane—as many are actually—greenhouses can truly add to our emissions footprint. However within the longer run, if these operations use low carbon or renewable vitality, they may very well be a supply of low emissions meals. Managed surroundings agriculture additionally permits extra meals to be produced on much less land. When matched with the appropriate insurance policies to create incentives to guard land, this creates new alternatives to create wildlife habitat and seize carbon in soil. However whereas this tech is viable for microgreens and different greens and fruits, it’s not at present a possible possibility for different main crops equivalent to berries.

Our estimates recommend we will keep away from 20MT of emissions by stopping land use change between now and 2050.

Based on the newest Census of Agriculture, Canada has roughly 5,000 greenhouses and nurseries. Large investments are additionally being made to develop vertical farming, together with a couple of authorities packages and a $65M funding by McCain Meals.

The Challenges

Prices stay a hurdle. Along with capital prices equivalent to land and the buildings themselves, electrical energy bills for LED lighting, which take the place of pure sunshine within the rising cycle, are typically the most important price range merchandise for vertical farms. Vertical farms can’t fairly compete with typical subject farming but and operators have struggled with zoning legal guidelines that don’t acknowledge indoor farming as agriculture.

Canadian highlight

Based in 2011, GoodLeaf Farms was impressed by indoor hydroponic farming in Japan. Its pilot farm was constructed close to Truro, Nova Scotia in 2015 and the corporate launched its first full-scale business farm in Guelph, Ontario in 2019. GoodLeaf grows microgreens and child greens year-round utilizing a hydroponic system, together with LED lights and managed warmth and humidity. Its merchandise, together with micro arugula, lettuce, child spinach, and extra, are bought in Ontario.

The Drawback

Annually, a single cow will belch about 220 kilos of methane.11 The methane from cattle is shorter lived than carbon dioxide however 28 occasions stronger by way of warming the planet. In Canada, enteric fermentation (the digestive course of in livestock) contributes roughly 24 MT of GHGs.

The Resolution

Scientists have found the way to scale back cattle emissions by means of the intestine microbiome. Feed components like 3-NOP (3-nitrooxypropanol), algae and seaweed dietary supplements suppress the enzyme that triggers the manufacturing of methane. They will additionally assist cows digest meals extra effectively. Components and dietary supplements have the potential to chop emissions by 16MT by 2050.

3-NOP has been proven to chop emissions by as a lot as 45% whereas including seaweed to the weight-reduction plan of dairy cows may lower emissions by as a lot as 82%. Scientists are additionally working to make sure that this may be completed with out yield losses—probably even enhancing the effectivity of cattle (that’s, serving to them develop extra utilizing much less feed). 12

The Challenges

The largest problem to scaling feed components is regulatory approval. 3-NOP has been authorized in Brazil and within the European Union, the place it was categorized underneath feed components that supply an environmental profit (streamlining the trail to commercialization). However in Canada, the place it’s labeled as a veterinary drug, it’s unlikely to be authorized for a number of years.

Price can be a key barrier. And not using a value on greenhouse gases (equivalent to a carbon tax), farmers lack the inducement to undertake methane-reducing components as a result of there’s not but a transparent financial profit—solely an environmental one. Whereas a carbon credit score scheme may assist, there’s nonetheless a heavy burden positioned on the farmer to assemble knowledge to achieve the credit score.

Canadian highlight

Established in 2007 in PEI, North Atlantic Organics (NAO) produces mineral dietary supplements for animals and crops utilizing natural sea crops (seaweeds). Inspiration for the enterprise got here to co-founder Joe Dorgan when he tried to transform his dairy herd to natural however was unable to discover a pure supply for mineral dietary supplements. A breakthrough arrived in 2014, when Rob Kinley, an agricultural scientist working with the corporate, discovered that its seaweed cattle combine was ready scale back methane emissions from cow’s digestion by 20%.13 The corporate is at present within the means of growing mineral dietary supplements for crops and hopes to scale up manufacturing.

The Drawback

Local weather change is leading to excessive climate occasions that may decimate crops. The overuse of fertilizer, as detailed above, generates nitrous oxide emissions.

The Resolution

Agricultural biotechnology makes use of selective breeding, genetic engineering, gene enhancing, and tissue tradition to speed up and complement conventional approaches to provide crops and livestock with fascinating traits, equivalent to enhanced illness or drought tolerance (amongst different issues). Its origins are in plant and animal breeding, which have been used for 1000’s of years to assist produce new kinds of crops and enhance yields. Canola, invented in Saskatchewan within the Sixties, is one instance. Along with breeding, genomic approaches that search to reinforce microbiomes, equivalent to within the soil or the heart of animals, can allow carbon sequestration or forestall illness. The usage of ag biotech approaches for carbon emissions discount is comparatively new and within the R&D section.

Ag biotech can create crops that enhance uptake of nitrogen and different vitamins in soil (thereby decreasing the usage of fertilizer). It will probably additionally create crops with larger resiliency to illness and excessive climate occasions (like flooding and drought), and optimize soil microbes to enhance soil fertility and increase plant development.

A few of the most fun agricultural analysis is now happening beneath the soil, as scientists research the facility of microbiomes and root buildings to counter local weather change. Some are analyzing the potential to regulate photosynthesis to speed up carbon sequestration. Others are growing microbiomes inoculated from illness. Biofertilizers are additionally being developed to safe the atmospheric nitrogen wanted for crops to thrive.

The Challenges

Among the many greatest limitations to funding in Canada are rules of crops with novel traits, that are extra stringent than these of rivals. A survey of plant breeders performed by CropLife Canada discovered {that a} quarter of plant breeding analysis was halted after initiatives have been decided to be “novel” and thus, topic to PNT threat assessments and approvals that would value as much as thousands and thousands of {dollars} earlier than a product may very well be commercialized. Seventy-seven p.c of respondents indicated that the PNT regulatory framework wanted to be up to date to mirror present ranges of information. One other 27% indicated they performed subject trials exterior of Canada to keep away from necessities pertaining to PNT varieties.

Canadian highlight

Okanagan Specialty Fruits, primarily based in Summerland, B.C., grows novel tree fruit varieties developed by means of bioengineering. Its flagship product is the Arctic apple, which doesn’t flip brown when bitten, sliced, or bruised (however does flip brown when it begins to rot). The corporate holds international mental property rights in compositions and strategies for regulating expression of polyphenol oxidase (PPO) genes to regulate enzymatic browning in tree fruits.

The Drawback

Livestock produce emissions by means of enteric fermentation and manure, as detailed above. The sample of land use change additionally generates emissions.

The Resolution

Mobile agriculture is a self-discipline that may rework yeast, micro organism, cell samples and fungi into novel types of proteins that may function options for dairy or lab-grown meat and fish. It has the potential to provide options to livestock and dairy merchandise that require much less land and inputs.

The lab-grown course of is taken into account extra sustainable because it makes use of much less water and land to provide meals and emits fewer greenhouse gases than a subject of cows or barn stuffed with chickens. 

And Canada has a plentiful provide of feedstock, notably carbohydrates, starches, and sugars, which may very well be used for cell-based agriculture merchandise.14 (We at present eliminate leftover starches from peas after its proteins are used to make plant-based meats. This might as a substitute be fed to specifically bred micro-organisms equivalent to yeast, which may then be used to make the proteins usually present in dairy merchandise).

The Challenges

Excessive upfront prices make beginning a mobile agriculture firm troublesome. Investor training has additionally been a barrier. Except for a couple of specialised funding corporations, entrepreneurs say most traders don’t sufficiently perceive the nuances of meals science to gauge the potential of the vertical. Funding quantities are typically low, with shorter phrases. Entrepreneurs say extra affected person capital is required to develop their firms.

Canadian highlight

Cell Ag Tech is an Ontario-based mobile agriculture startup growing cell-cultured seafood, with a present deal with lean white fish. Cell Ag Tech was lately introduced as a winner in Canada’s regional mobile agriculture competitors, AcCELLerate-ON, for its work on scaling fish muscle stem cells in 2D and 3D. Earlier this yr, Cell Ag Tech additionally entered into an settlement to collaborate with the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Drugs to develop a course of for rising fish cells in bioreactors.

Suggestions: Canada’s time to guide

The Subsequent Inexperienced Revolution depends upon each placing prepared applied sciences to work and responsibly growing the game-changing improvements that can outline the longer term. Although different nations are quickly mobilizing their very own sources to perform these objectives, few are as well-positioned as Canada to guide.

The next actions will probably be key to catalyzing the funding wanted to scale the Transformative Seven, in addition to take away key limitations to their adoption. Within the subsequent phases of our report collection, we’ll achieve a greater understanding of how expertise (buttressed by coverage) might be utilized to assist producers (particularly small- and medium-sized farms), foster acceptance by customers and be inclusive of all stakeholders.

Create a central funding physique for analysis and growth. Most of the most promising and superior areas of Canadian agricultural analysis don’t match inside present funding classes. A extra centralized system, working in shut partnership with academia and the personal sector, equivalent to in the US Division of Agriculture, may develop a extra holistic, nationwide view of the place assist and innovation is required. The management proven by federal governments in creating the innovation tremendous clusters offers a playbook for a way Canada can tremendous cost agri-food analysis and innovation.

Allow commercialization of current analysis. This can require elevated funding for college tech switch workplaces and packages. To unlock Canada’s innate strengths in analysis and growth, we have to make it simpler for researchers to take their work to business market. This contains streamlining crop science rules that at present require in depth (and costly) trials, and have discouraged some from pursuing growth in Canada.

Marry agriculture and expertise packages in post-secondary faculties. Future meals techniques want extra individuals with abilities in knowledge science, coding, and synthetic intelligence—lots of whom are at present drawn to the software program business. Efforts to attract extra of this expertise ought to start early. Re-branding agriculture as a “cool” profession might require native governments and enterprise enchancment associations to re-brand rural communities as fascinating locations to reside—particularly for immigrant populations with STEM abilities. Collaboration with social scientists can guarantee improvements are contextualized to the wants of farmers, accepted by customers, and developed responsibly.

Create a Canadian Ag-Tech Silicon Valley. This hub for breakthrough ag-tech innovation ought to allow cross-silo collaboration amongst entrepreneurs, traders, researchers, communities, companies and governments and carry the objective of incubating concepts and supporting the expansion of start-ups and scale-ups. The hub ought to align private and non-private sector gamers round a standard innovation ambition, targeted on choose priorities (such because the Transformative Seven applied sciences outlined above). An instance of that is Rabobank’s Foodbytes! initiative. It features a startup program that gives meals and ag-tech startups with mentorship, business partnership, and funding alternatives.

Create modern tax and monetary incentives to spur extra personal funding. Accelerating personal funding in Canadian ag-tech will imply considering extra creatively in regards to the tax and monetary incentives we’ve in place. We have to encourage the automation that will probably be key to our agricultural productiveness and worldwide competitiveness—and that can draw extra capital to the applied sciences that can drive the way forward for low emissions farming. Increasing accelerated depreciation past tangible belongings to incorporate synthetic intelligence and different ag-techs is one chance.

Develop a complete and clear view of ag-tech investments that’s simply accessible. This could embrace the entire innovation lifecycle. Information on personal (enterprise capital and personal fairness) funding in startup firms is usually out there besides the place funding rounds are usually not disclosed, however thorough knowledge on enterprise funding in agriculture R&D is troublesome, if not unattainable, to return by. The identical might be mentioned of ag-specific increased training R&D. Filling in these knowledge gaps would give us a view of the expertise panorama and assist us perceive the place we want larger funding.

Construct communities of early adopters amongst farmers. Farmers take heed to different farmers. A lot of the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices has stemmed from farmers seeing the successes of others—notably these working with related rising circumstances. This helps ease farmers’ uncertainty in regards to the effectiveness of applied sciences with out risking their very own operations. Unbiased demonstration areas are additionally highly effective instruments to show the effectiveness of rising improvements. A lot of this data switch was once carried out by publicly-funded and impartial agriculture extension packages. Extra lately, personal sector firms have invested closely in utilized analysis packages to assist farmers get very best outcomes from their merchandise.

Make it pay. Forcing farmers to pay for emissions they already produce may add strain to excessive meals costs. A greater strategy is to compensate farmers for decreasing them. But current fashions like carbon credit are inadequate and place an unequal burden on the farmer. A nationwide normal for measuring the affect of emissions-cutting actions, together with a mechanism for measuring, reporting and verifying (MRV) carbon saved in soils, may very well be vital to compensating farmers and to empowering policymakers and monetary establishments to mobilize assist. This normal—additionally key to attracting funding—will must be designed and controlled on a nationwide foundation and aligned internationally with our main buying and selling companions.

Share the danger. For farmers, adoption of emissions-cutting expertise provides extra uncertainty to a enterprise already weighted with threat. Governments and different firms within the agricultural worth chain have an necessary position to play in sharing the danger burden. That’ll imply insuring towards yield losses for farmers who undertake sustainable practices. For instance, proper now there isn’t a incentive for sustainable agriculture underneath crop insurance coverage schemes although these practices are confirmed to cut back the affect of flooding and drought. Crop insurers ought to be keen to regulate premiums to mirror these shifting dangers.


Trinh Theresa Do, Senior Supervisor, Thought Management Technique
Naomi Powell, Managing Editor, Economics and Thought Management
John Stackhouse, Senior Vice President
Colin Guldimann, Economist
Benjamin Richardson, Analysis Affiliate
Farah Huq, Senior Director, Content material Technique
Darren Chow, Senior Supervisor, Digital Media
Zeba Khan, Supervisor, Digital Publishing
Aidan Smith-Edgell, Analysis Affiliate
Kitty Wu, Intern
Gwen Paddock, Director, Sustainability & Local weather – Agriculture
Brenda Bouw, Freelance Author

Boston Consulting Group
Keith Halliday, Director, Centre for Canada’s Future
Chris Fletcher, Managing Director and Accomplice
Sonya Hoo, Managing Director and Accomplice
Wendi Backler, Accomplice and Director, BCG Centre for Development and Innovation Analytics
Youssef Aroub, Undertaking Chief
Pilar Pedrinelli, Guide
Rachit Sharma, Lead Data Analyst, BCG Centre for Development and Innovation Analytics

Arrell Meals Institute, College of Guelph
Evan Fraser, Director
Deus Mugabe, Ph.D. Candidate, Plant Agriculture
Dr. Jesus Pulido-Castanon, Put up-doctoral Analysis Affiliate
Emily Duncan, PhD Candidate

    Along with these cited on this report, we’d prefer to thank the next people for his or her insights:

    • Alice Reimer, Strategic Advisor, CDL
    • Alison Sunstrum, Founder, CEO CNSRVX-Inc
    • Jim Baker, CEO, Cultura Applied sciences (Volaris Group)
    • Simon Barber, Former Head, Asia Pacific Regulatory and Stewardship, Syngenta Seeds, Singapore
    • Wilf Keller, Vice President of Outreach, Agri-Meals Innovation Council
    • Ray Worth, CEO, Sunterra Group
    • Gary Haley, Chair, Haley Household Funding Belief
    • Jay Cross, President, Canadian Academy of Well being Sciences; Professor, College of Calgary
    • Lenore Newman, Canada Analysis Chair in Meals Safety and the Setting and Professor of Geography, Simon Fraser College
    • Mark Thompson, Govt Vice President, Chief Company Growth and Technique Officer, Nutrien Ltd.
    • Michelle Nutting, Director, Agricultural and Environmental Sustainability, Nutrien Ltd.
    • Dan Heaney, Analysis Affiliate, Plant Vitamin Canada
    • Tom Steve, Basic Supervisor, Alberta Wheat Fee
    • Jason Lenz, Vice President, Alberta Wheat Fee
    • Dan McCann, CEO, Precision AI
    • Juanita Moore, Vice President of Company Growth, GoodLeaf Farms
    • Janay Meisser, Director of Innovation, United Farmers of Alberta
    • Mauricio Alanís, Director, Sustainability Technique and Partnerships, Maple Leaf Meals
    • Ryan Phillippe, Director, Company Growth, Genome Canada
    • Josh Bourassa, Analysis Affiliate, The Simpson Centre for Meals and Agricultural Coverage
    • Elena Vinco, Researcher and Coverage Analyst, The Simpson Centre for Meals and Agricultural Coverage
    • Guillaume Lhermie, Director, The Simpson Centre for Meals and Agricultural Coverage
    • Lejjy Gafour, President, Cult Meals Science Corp.
    • Francis Rowe, CFO, Cult Meals Science Corp.
    • Jane Church, Company Engagement Supervisor, Nature United
    • Tony Ward, Professor Emeritus, Division of Economics, Brock College
    • Dave MacMillan, CEO, Deveron UAS
    • Derek Eaton, Director of Public Coverage Analysis and Outreach, Good Prosperity Institute
    • David Hughes, President and CEO, The Pure Step Canada
    • Stuart Smyth, Affiliate Professor, Faculty of Agriculture and Bioresources, College of Saskatchewan
    • Kristjan Hebert, Managing Accomplice, Hebert Grain Ventures
    • John Van Logtenstein, Vice-President, Dairy Lane Programs and DLS Biogas
    • John Walker, Walker Farms
    • Scott Walker, Walker Farms
    • Clyde Graham, Govt Vice President, Fertilizer Canada
    • Josh Pollack, Co-founder, CELL AG TECH
    • Valentin Fulga, Co-founder, CELL AG TECH

    1. With out change to present practices or market share, we challenge Canada’s present agriculture emissions may rise to 137 megatonnes by 2050
    2. Agricultural Institute of Canada, “An Overview of the Canadian Agricultural Innovation System.” 2017.
    3. The Occasions of Israel, “Israeli firms lead world in plant-based meals tech investments — report,” August 2022.
    4. Eco-Enterprise, “Is Singapore poised to turn into Asia’s hub for various protein?,” August 2021.
    5. BBC Storyworks, “How expertise is remodeling Japan’s agriculture”
    6. Quick Firm, “How the Netherlands turned a plant-based protein powerhouse,” November 2020.
    7. Nutrien, “2022 Environmental, Social ESG And Governance (“ESG”) Report,” 2022.
    8. International CCS Institute. “Services Database,”
    9. Canadian Biogas Affiliation, “Canadian 2020 Biogas Market Report.” April 2021.
    10. Columbia Local weather Faculty: State of the Planet, “How Sustainable is Vertical Farming? College students Attempt to Reply the Query,” December 2015. https://information.local
    11. UC Davis, “Cows and local weather change: making cattle extra sustainable,” June 2019.
    12. Breanna M. Roque, Marielena Venegas, Robert D. Kinley, Rocky de Nys, Toni L. Duarte, Xiang Yang, Ermias Kebreab, “Purple seaweed (Asparagopsis taxiformis) supplementation reduces enteric methane by over 80 p.c in beef steers,” March 2021.
    13. CBC Information, “How feeding cows seaweed may assist P.E.I. meet emission targets and increase this enterprise
    Social Sharing,” November 2021.
    14. Ontario Genomics, “Mobile Agriculture Canada’s $12.5 Billion Alternative In Meals Innovation,” November 2021.



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