Grain sampling and data management efficiencies to contribute to food security

Image Credit: VeriGrain
Image Credit: VeriGrain

Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Digital Integration Centre of Excellence, in partnership with VeriGrain, begins work to extend the functionality of a mobile app to enhance grain quality and tracking abilities.

VeriGrain, an agriculture technology company, set out to fill a gap in the agriculture industry by creating an app that provides growers with better knowledge of their grain quality. After developing an initial Android app in 2020, VeriGrain connected with Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Digital Integration Centre of Excellence (DICE). Their collaboration added to the app’s existing capabilities and was released in July 2021 for iOS and Android. VeriGrain and DICE are now working to enhance the app features and extend its functionality. It is anticipated that these improvements will have a significant positive impact on the agriculture industry.

“The VeriGrain app started off as a better way to manage grain samples and related information,” says Ken Jackson, CEO at VeriGrain. “As the project evolved it became apparent the app could provide inventory intelligence, including grain analysis information, tracking grain quantity and analyzing inventory to determine the optimal way to sell. We also realized there are significant benefits to grain buyers and we are creating a unique model of the app specific for them.”

App features such as the ability to accurately determine grain qualities and track sample results back to bins will help maximize efficiencies and profits for the agriculture industry. VeriGrain’s systems will also optimize grain utilization and reduce spoilage which increases the quantity and quality of food available. With better knowledge of grain quality and reduced spoilage losses, growers could see an increase in revenue. “Demand for more and better food is ever-increasing and the quantity and quality of farmland is decreasing. It is crucial that we ensure every bushel grown gets utilized,” adds Jackson. “VeriGrain helps achieve this, giving growers and buyers detailed grain qualities information sooner, which results in more and better food getting to consumers.”

With the project in its infancy, research and prototyping of these app features are just beginning and funding is crucial to advancing the product. “The funding we’ve received from NSERC and Mitacs has been instrumental for our applied research and prototype development. We’re excited to continue working with VeriGrain on this project that has the potential to drive efficiencies and revenues for the agriculture industry. This project could also have broader impacts on overall food security,” says Dr. Terry Peckham, DICE director and research chair at Sask Polytech.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) aims to enhance innovation by enabling Canadian polytechnics and colleges to increase their capacity to work with private sector companies. It supports applied research and collaborations that facilitate commercialization, as well as technology transfer, adaptation and adoption of new technologies. Mitacs builds partnerships that support industrial and social innovation in Canada. Through their Accelerate program, Mitacs assists with academic expertise, leveraged funding and one-to-one support.

The total cost of the project is $532,500, contributed over a three-year period. This includes an investment of $120,000 from VeriGrain, plus $300,000 from the NSERC Applied Research and Development grant and $112,500 from the Mitacs Accelerate program.

With the app enhancements scheduled for completion in 2024, VeriGrain can expect increased benefits from these technological improvements including extending their current market from growers to buyers and consumers. As a market leader with substantial intellectual property protection, VeriGrain is also well positioned to become a leading supplier of grain data, globally. “The further we go with the VeriGrain product the more opportunity we see,” says Jackson.

With its focus on data-driven applied research, DICE works collaboratively with various industry partners to help solve their data challenges. By partnering with DICE, organizations have access to exceptional computational facilities, faculty expertise, and talented student researchers, along with research and development funding and a vast network of connections. The DICE team of specialists and technologists are all experienced in providing digital solutions focused on data across a spectrum of industries.

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Published Oct 2021

Saskatchewan Polytechnic is signatory to the SDG Accord. Sustainable Development Goal alignment is one of the ways Sask Polytech is leading the rise of polytechnic education.

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