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UNB’s McKenna Institute announces investment in digital agriculture led by McCain Foods

The McKenna Institute at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) has announced a $3.75 million investment from a partnership led by McCain Foods and other New Brunswick institutions that will change digital agriculture, progress regenerative farming practices and minimize the impact of climate change on farmland.

Over the next five years, McCain Foods is committing $2.76 million to create a project that imitates farming with regenerative agriculture practices, with the goal of increasing the uptake of more sustainable potato farming, globally. This digital model will act as a simulation for farmers, showcasing the environmental and business impacts of regenerative agriculture. This investment aligns with McCain Foods' commitment to implement regenerative agriculture across 100 percent of its global potato acreage by 2030.

"This investment will go a long way in supporting the future of New Brunswick's agricultural landscape," said Hon. Frank McKenna, founder of the McKenna Institute at UNB. "In this exciting partnership with McCain Foods, we look forward to enhancing research and innovation in the field of digital agriculture while exploring sustainable practices through digital solutions."

Adding to McCain Foods' substantial contribution, ResearchNB, the Government of New Brunswick's Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture & Fisheries, and the McKenna Institute are collectively contributing an additional $990,000. This combined investment marks a pivotal step toward fostering a sustainable, resilient agricultural landscape.

This investment will enhance agricultural research at UNB by creating a "digital twin" of McCain's Farm of the Future in Florenceville, NB. This commercial-scale research farm demonstrates sustainable farming practices, producing positive results on crop yield and quality while prioritizing soil health, water use, biodiversity and climate resilience. Work at the Farm of the Future will reduce the carbon emissions associated with farming while bolstering the resiliency and productivity of the farm.

"A key part of our effort to promote smart and sustainable farming is leveraging technology solutions to help us redefine the way we grow a potato," says Max Koeune, President & CEO of McCain Foods. "This cutting-edge digital farm model will help potato farmers worldwide adopt practices that help regenerate soils, improve water management and biodiversity, and ensure a resilient farming operation."

A Chair in Digital Agriculture at UNB will be established with $1.5 million of the contribution. The Chair will oversee a range of research initiatives that may include digital agriculture, crop simulation modeling, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), sensor data and Internet of Things (IoT) devices to support their initiatives.

Additionally, the investment will support various academic-led research projects in agricultural science, regenerative agriculture and smart farming practices, utilizing interactive analytics and digital twin technologies.

For more information:
McCain Foods Limited
439 King Street West, 5th Floor
Toronto, ON, Canada M5V 1K4
Tel: +1 (416) 955-1700

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