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Plant protein partners develop AI tech to improve lentil crops

A consortium of partners in Canada is developing artificial intelligence (AI) technology to address issues faced by the country’s lentil growers. With support from Protein Industries Canada, partners Ukko Agro, Hawk’s Agro and Three Farmers will work together to build an in-field platform to predict and control anthracnose and Ascochyta blight – diseases of concern in lentil crops. By utilising AI, the partners aim to help farmers and agronomists make improved crop management decisions to lower input costs, improve disease management and preserve yield potential. These measures can help secure Canada’s supply chain for ingredient processors and food manufacturers. Bill Greuel, CEO of Protein Industries Canada, said that the technology has potential to be expanded to other plant protein crops in the future. He commented: “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.” The partners will utilise and build on Ukko Agro’s ForeSite platform to develop and commercialise their AI technology. Once available to farmers, agronomists and retailers, the technology is expected to help improve the sector’s sustainability, increase yields and strengthen the ingredient supply chain. A total of CAD 2.6 million (approx. $1.9 million) has been committed to the project, with Protein Industries Canada investing CAD 1.2 million and the partners together investing the remainder. Protein Industries Canada’s AI stream is funded as part of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, through which the Canadian government is investing in efforts to drive AI adoption across the country’s economy and society. Throughout its first tranche of funding, Protein Industries Canada and its partners invested more than CAD 460 million (approx. $339 million) into growing Canada’s plant-based food, feed and ingredient sector through 55 technology and capacity-building projects. The organisation’s AI stream is expected to complement these projects by helping companies across the ecosystem incorporate AI and machine learning into their work, optimising processes and making them more sustainable while improving the functionality, taste and nutrition profiles of Canada’s plant-based ingredients.

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