‘Armchair rancher’ app helps beef producers get ahead of trends

Mixes agriculture with AI to help ranchers make better business decisions

‘Armchair rancher’ app helps beef producers get ahead of trendsNew University of Alberta research is mixing artificial intelligence with agriculture to help cattle ranchers. An analytic “armchair rancher” mobile app is being developed to help beef producers better manage various aspects of their herds. The smart device application will aid them – by leveraging the masses of data they already collect daily on factors…

Why the cultured meat industry needs its own Elon Musk

Cultured meat could succeed but it won’t be easy

Why the cultured meat industry needs its own Elon MuskLeonardo DiCaprio has just used his A-list magic powers again by investing in two American cultured-meat startups, Aleph Farms and Mosa Meat. This is the same actor who invested in a vegetable protein company before the plant-based phenomenon was a thing. Beyond Meat is now worth more than US$8 billion. DiCaprio saw it coming before…

How to reduce our emissions without penalizing rural regions

Policies should be fair for all Canadians, regardless of where they happen to live

How to reduce our emissions without penalizing rural regionsBy Miguel Ouellette Olivier Rancourt and Krystle Wittevrongel Montreal Economic Institute Reducing our greenhouse gas emissions is one of the big concerns of our age. The numerous diverging interests pitted against each other on this issue make it a real puzzler for policy-makers, though. After many years of public policies aimed at reducing GHGs, layered…

The future of farming is smarter

In the drive to become more efficient and adaptive, farms are becoming innovation incubators

The future of farming is smarterThe future of farming might bring tiny drone pollinators or a fishy foray into conserving water in greenhouses. It might bring an app that diagnoses plant disease, artificial intelligence that reduces a farmer’s driving time, or robotics that lend some extra hands. Future farming might bring some, all or none of those. What it will…

Digital tech experts work to bring internet to rural and remote communities

Coalition they helped create will advocate, share ideas and shape policy aimed at improving access to broadband

Digital tech experts work to bring internet to rural and remote communitiesTwo University of Alberta professors are working to improve internet services for Albertans living in rural and remote communities as members of a new coalition. The Alberta Rural Connectivity Coalition (ARCC), which U of A digital technology experts Rob McMahon and Michael McNally helped found last fall, is working with steering committee members to bring together Alberta communities to explore ways…

ConnecTour Chronicles: Cheap rural living brings brewery dream to life

Nokomis Craft Ales is putting Nokomis, Sask. on the map – defying conventional thinking that only the big city yields success

ConnecTour Chronicles: Cheap rural living brings brewery dream to lifeTroy Media publisher Doug Firby and Travel editor Lisa Monforton are part of a group of Canadians who call themselves ConnecTour. Starting in May in British Columbia and ending in October in Newfoundland, they hope to make an 8,000-km bicycle journey across the country, discovering how the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped our lives and our…

Students get virtual taste of real-world life on the farm

With help from Alberta farmers, an online animal science course is giving U of A students an inside look at the agricultural industry

Students get virtual taste of real-world life on the farmOnline classes during COVID-19 can feel a bit distant. But add in 48 farmers and a real-time calf birth, and things perk up considerably. That vivid minute-by-minute experience of watching a Black Angus cow give birth was a matter of lucky timing as Jesse Emery gave University of Alberta animal science students a virtual walking…

Keep government out of the internet business

Keep government out of the internet businessManitoba’s Opposition New Democratic Party proposes the creation of a new Crown corporation to provide high-speed internet service to rural and remote communities, particularly First Nations communities, in that province. This is a bad idea for several reasons. A host of private-sector and government organizations are launching enormous flotillas of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites to…

Innovative livestock grazing approach could reduce greenhouse gases

Innovative livestock grazing approach could reduce greenhouse gasesAn innovative approach to livestock grazing could help eliminate climate change-causing greenhouse gases, according to a new study. The research shows that a strategy called adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing extracts methane gas from the atmosphere, locking it inside the soil through microbial activity. Methane gas has a climate warming effect that is 28 times more potent…

High-tech rehabilitative platform connects rural Albertans to specialists

Platform allows specialists to offer physiotherapy expertise for patients in smaller communities

High-tech rehabilitative platform connects rural Albertans to specialistsThe human touch of a high-tech University of Alberta project is starting to be felt by rural Alberta physiotherapy patients on the road to recovery. The specialized assessments made possible through a telehealth project that began last summer are moving patients in small communities to tears of relief as they get the help they need.…

Indigenous communities leaping the digital divide

Indigenous communities are setting up their own satellite, fibre optics and even cellular phone networks

Indigenous communities leaping the digital divideWhen Bruce Buffalo returned to Maskwacis after years away in the big city, he was appalled to discover parts of his community still had no internet service. Just an hour’s drive from Edmonton, some neighbourhoods in the Indigenous community remained cut off from the rest of the world as recently as 2016, apart from a few…

Virtual clinic pilot sees success in rural Alberta community

U of A spinoff company launches MedROAD virtual clinic in Alberta, making long-distance health care a reality during COVID-19

Virtual clinic pilot sees success in rural Alberta communityA new pilot project called MedROAD is bringing the power of precision health to Pincher Creek, Alta. – and seeing promising results. MedROAD promises to be the future of telehealth, leveraging the power of artificial intelligence and cloud-based computing to remotely connect patients with health-care professionals, no matter where they are. Developed at the University of Alberta by computing scientist Pierre…

As Canadians flee cities, rural living gets its mojo back

Pandemic has accelerated the flow of people fleeing cities, especially among young people

It’s no secret the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many Canadians to move from cities to the suburbs and even the countryside. According to Statistics Canada, the phenomenon led to a record loss of population in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver in 2020. Vacancy rates are skyrocketing in many urban centres across the country. The same phenomenon…

Satellite breakthroughs will change internet delivery

Exciting times in the satellite industry

Satellite breakthroughs will change internet deliveryElon Musk’s Starlink low Earth orbit (LEO) network has been awarded US$885 million over 10 years to build out rural internet access in the U.S. This was the fourth largest amount awarded under the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). Testing of preliminary Starlink service recently began. This is a billion-dollar (almost) vote of confidence in…

Eliminating the rural-urban divide, one internet connection at a time

Many Canadians are fleeing cities only to realize how poorly serviced rural regions are in terms of internet access

Eliminating the rural-urban divide, one internet connection at a timeThey say food connects us all. So does the internet these days. Along with the provinces, the federal government says it is now on a path to give 98 per cent of the Canadian population access to high-speed internet by 2026. This is a much more ambitious target than the previous goal of 95 per…

Worse birth outcomes, higher pregnancy risk in poorest rural regions

Alberta researchers identify gradients of risk for preterm births, small and large size at birth, smoking and drug use by mothers

Worse birth outcomes, higher pregnancy risk in poorest rural regionsThe highest concentration of adverse birth outcomes and related maternal risk factors occur in rural areas of Alberta with the lowest socio-economic status, according to new research from the University of Alberta. “When it comes to perinatal health, postal code can be as important as your genetic code,” said perinatal epidemiologist Maria-Beatriz Ospina, assistant professor of obstetrics…

Animal grazing reducing biodiversity around the world

Study of unprecedented scale shows less variety of herbivores and pollinators in grazed areas worldwide

Animal grazing reducing biodiversity around the worldLivestock grazing is reducing the biodiversity of herbivores and pollinators worldwide, according to a new study led by University of Alberta researchers that examined the impact of grazing on a larger scale than ever before. “We looked at the effects of livestock grazing on every continent except Antarctica and what it means for biodiversity,” said Alessandro…

Pandemic drives need to boost rural wireless services

Where COVID-19 outbreaks happen in population-dense urban settings, people want to move. But they need services

Pandemic drives need to boost rural wireless servicesWith the potential for the COVID-19 to accelerate migration from cities to rural areas, it’s time for all levels of government to stop their dithering and accelerate efforts to provide broadband and cellular wireless services to rural and remote populations. The infighting between provincial, federal and municipal authorities has gone on for at least two…

Is dam removal the wave of the future?

Research suggests it makes more ecological and economic sense to dismantle dams than to restore or maintain them

Is dam removal the wave of the future?Urban studies researcher Richard Florida has made a reputation with a lot of interesting ideas, many of which are controversial. One of his ideas is that people like to live near water, and that leads to prosperity in cities located on rivers, streams, lakes and oceans. My perspective on this theory is that settlers to…

Applying barnyard lessons to the pandemic aftermath

For many, the current economic climate is very difficult. There are serious challenges ahead

Applying barnyard lessons to the pandemic aftermathIt had rained all day and as I walked that evening with my wife, I noticed the worms on the road, clambering to escape the torrents of water that were flooding their living spaces. Finding a discarded drink cup, I started collecting them for our garden. Counting them as I went, I was taken back…

COVID-19 lessons can improve health, legal systems

Client interfaces in law and medicine are as moribund as they were a century ago. It’s time to use technology to better advantage

COVID-19 lessons can improve health, legal systemsIn the time of the 1918-19 Spanish flu, the world was very different. Of course, there was no Internet, TV or social media. In fact, there wasn’t even any radio until a few years later. All the news was provided by the newspaper and almost all long-distance transportation was by rail or ship. We’ve come…

Pet shops have a better chance of survival than farmers

Farmers were naive to expect much help from a government that’s obsessed with city-slicking ideas

Pet shops have a better chance of survival than farmersThe Canadian Federation of Agriculture really set the bar high with its $2.6-billion aid request last week. When a federal program barely worth $252 million was announced, the disappointment felt throughout the farming community wasn’t surprising. The funds were indeed underwhelming and won’t be enough to get some of those producers to stick around. Many…

Embracing the country life

Part 2 of the retirement dilemma: city mouse or country mouse? It's time to put an end to urban living

Embracing the country lifeWe began to embrace country life in 2004 when we bought recreational property at the north end of the Sunshine Coast, two ferry rides and about 100 km of driving up-coast from Vancouver. Still living in Calgary, we knew it was time to start planning for retirement and the post-work world. Our 24 acres fronts…

The retirement dilemma: city mouse or country mouse?

Part 1: Defining the attributes of your successful retirement community

The retirement dilemma: city mouse or country mouse?Who says you have to go on living in the same location when you retire? The choice is yours. City or country retirement is ultimately a personal decision. But it draws significantly on your prior life, and the skills and personal attributes you can bring to the retirement community you choose. How you retire is…

Split firewood and enduring friendships

A weekend rigorously scheduled, egalitarian, task-focused and bathed in a bonding humour

Split firewood and enduring friendshipsThe chainsaw, sledge and wedges are back in the woodshed. The winter wood is split and stacked. Steve and Dave have headed home to their busy lives; Johnnie and James have promised to redouble their efforts to attend next year. And I’m once again pondering the strength of a growing tradition: Wood Camp at Skelhp.…

Farm industry upheaval brings a way of life to an end

Prairie towns and villages are becoming relics of the past. Formerly bustling main streets are lined with boarded-up businesses, inhabited by aging retirees who carry the memories of a bygone era

Farm industry upheaval brings a way of life to an endWhat do you think is Canada’s riskiest business? Childhood on our family farm taught me the answer to that question. Despite years of heartbreaking disappointments, my father was a perfect example of the adage “hope springs eternal.” Each spring, he would sing happily on our tractor while seeding wheat, barley and oats. Then we hoped…

Canadian agriculture outlook uncertain: TD

Canadian agriculture outlook uncertain: TDTrade uncertainty and oversupply have added a considerable amount of uncertainty to this year’s agricultural outlook, says a report released on Wednesday by TD Economics.  The Canadian Agriculture Outlook said oilseeds in particular are expected to weigh on cash receipts and increase storage costs. “That said, there are several pockets of optimism. In the near…

Localized and personalized: how to keep culture relevant

The world of arts and culture offers lots of examples of gross expense and imported notions of what’s important. But there are alternatives

Localized and personalized: how to keep culture relevantHow are the National Post and the Globe and Mail doing in your neighbourhood? In Powell River, the big Toronto newspapers are on their last boomer gasp at the newsstands. In their place, piles of the weekly Powell River Peak and monthly Powell River Living fly off the counters and adjacent distribution boxes. The local…

Spring semester begins at Skelhp

Some familiar buzzes, croaks and tweets and a new cat-like cry as the turning of the seasons teaches anew

Spring semester begins at SkelhpMy British Museum 2019 Diary proclaims the vernal equinox arrived on March 20 this year, with a cryptic little note: “Spring begins.” At Skelhp, we already knew. In fact, I think spring began on Sunday, March 10, when we descended artfully on the deer-fenced garden with pruning clippers to shape some apple and cherry trees.…

You never really know what’s following you until it snows

I’ve adjusted my solo walk schedule and try to be alert to the possibility that a cougar is lurking

You never really know what’s following you until it snowsWe joke in our family about my living a city-mouse/country-mouse existence. Part of the time, I live in a 600-square-foot Vancouver condo and part of the time I live with the land at Skelhp on the Sunshine coast. In Vancouver, I’m visually connected to pigeons, seagulls, and the 4 p.m. return flight of northwestern crows,…