"Grow Canola 2.015" to Revolutionize Communication in Agriculture

Agronomic Updates by Web 2.0-Based System to Boost Canadian Canola Production

SAN FRANCISCO, March 18 /CNW/ - The Canola Council of Canada (CCC) announced today a new "Grow Canola 2.015" plan that will enable farmers to interact with virtual agronomists for immediate, customized information. This innovative communication system will help farmers reach the canola industry's production goal of 15 million tonnes by 2015. And according to a 2010 grower survey, when the CCC builds it, they will come: 91 percent of farmers with Internet access polled said they will probably or definitely use the "Grow Canola 2.015" system.

"Using e-mail, smartphone and social media platforms to provide canola growers with real-time agronomic updates will revolutionize agriculture," said Denise Maurice, CCC vice president of crop production at the CCC's 43rd annual convention in San Francisco. "'Grow Canola 2.015' will be the first communication system of its kind for farmers, serving as a model for other agricultural sectors."

The survey, which included 1,345 preliminary telephone screenings followed by 359 in-depth phone and 812 online interviews with Canadian canola growers, found that:

    
    -  Growers with Internet access make up about 75 percent of the market
       and 95 percent of them find the Internet valuable to their farming
       operation. High-speed Internet access dominates the rural market at 87
       percent.
    -  Smartphone usage is expected to grow from less than 20 percent to 30
       percent in the next year, representing more than 5 million acres of
       production.
    -  Conducting research on the Internet is the number one activity growers
       intend to do more of in the next year. Farmers now prefer to receive
       agronomic information via e-mail, keeping pace with what technology
       can deliver any time of day.
    -  Online diagnostic tools, access to agronomic researchers through
       webinars and receiving pest alerts are all communication methods that
       growers are interested in exploring.
    

Farmers say they are particularly keen to use a Web-based diagnostic tool to send text and/or photos to an expert for immediate assistance and to be able to localize agronomic information, such as variety performance, disease control, insect forecasts and weed control via a Web application.

"The 'Grow Canola 2.015' system will save me time researching and addressing agronomic issues and we all know that time is money, especially when combating pest and disease problems," said Greg Porozni, canola grower and director of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission.

Nearly $2.5 million in funding from the Canadian government and canola industry will allow for implementation of "Grow Canola 2.015" over four years, starting now until March 31, 2013. In addition, the CCC will provide in-kind support in agronomic advice and administration of the program.

"The CCC is most grateful to the government and industry for seeing the value in this fascinating project," Maurice concluded. "We aim to arm canola growers with Internet technology to help them produce the highest yielding and best quality crops possible."

SOURCE Canola Council of Canada

For further information: For further information: Robert Hunter, Tel: (204) 982-2126, hunterr@canolacouncil.org

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