Agricultural innovation was front and centre at this year’s Canada’s Outdoor Farm Show (COFS), hosted by Bioenterprise Canada partner Glacier FarmMedia in Woodstock, Ontario. As Canada’s Food & Agri-Tech Engine, Bioenterprise was active at the event as both a sponsor of the popular annual agtech breakfast and as an exhibitor.
Approximately 40,000 people attended the three-day event, which is an important way to showcase innovations to farmers so they can learn more about them and even see them in action before deciding how they might be adaptable to their individual farm businesses.
Bioenterprise was excited to be there to support and learn about the innovative programs, technologies, and products that are improving sustainability options across the agtech sector. During the show, the team was able to meet with Trevor Jones, Member of Provincial Parliament for Chatham-Kent-Leamington and Parliamentary Assistant to the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and share with him how Bioenterprise supports small and medium size enterprises in the agtech sector through its programs, mentorship and coaching services and network of experts and partners across Canada.
With a booth in the Innovation Pavilion1 alongside many of its members and program funding recipients, the Bioenterprise team had many opportunities to interact with representatives from those companies, as well as make connections with new start-ups.
“We had a tremendous level of interest from growers who wanted to learn more about biostimulants and biologicals, so the exposure and knowledge transfer components were great,” says Mohammad Rahbari, Executive Vice President of Innovation and Sustainability with BioLiNE Corporation. “We are really seeing the momentum, interest, and knowledge in improving crop and soil health with biostimulants.”
BioLiNE has developed a fulvic acid biostimulant made from mushroom compost that supports a plant’s natural nutrition processes. The company has received funding through several programs delivered by Bioenterprise, including Fertilizer Accelerating Solutions & Technology Challenge2, the Ontario Agri-Food Research Initiative (OAFRI)3 commercialization stream, and SmartGrowth.
“The opportunity to give a three-minute pitch at the agtech breakfast was both exciting and rewarding. Sharing the podium with a group of fantastic Canadian entrepreneurs, passionate about agriculture and their innovation was a great source of inspiration,” adds Rahbari. “Sometimes the day-to-day grind for entrepreneurs to grow their business can impact our energy and events such as the innovation reception sharing our stories can re-energize our batteries.”
Tavistock-based SoilOptix Inc has a long history of exhibiting at COFS and used this year’s show to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its digital soil mapping technology that helps farmers customize a variable rate fertilizer program specific to the characteristics of their soil and the nutrients in the ground.
The SoilOptix team makes use of the mentorship, guidance and resources from Bioenterprise staff and advisors, including business-focused information sessions, introductions to potential partners and collaborators, and regular check-ins to see what additional support could be needed.
“The SoilOptix technology was first premiered at COFS 2013, and we were so excited to celebrate this milestone at the very show that started it all for us. COFS is an amazing opportunity for us to have those face-to-face conversations directly with our end-users, while supporting our network of providers by connecting them with growers from all over,” says Jessica Clayton, Sales and Marketing with SoilOptix. “The show also provides us with the opportunity to meet our contacts from industry partners and resources, like Bioenterprise, in person, which is always so great.”
1Financial support for the Innovation Pavilion was provided by the Governments of Canada and Ontario under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP), a five-year (2023-2028), $3.5-billion investment by federal, provincial and territorial governments to strengthen competitiveness, innovation, and resiliency of the agriculture, agri‐food and agri‐based products sector.
2The Fertilizer Accelerating Solutions & Technology Challenge is funded by the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
3Funding for OAFRI was previously provided by the Governments of Canada and Ontario under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), a five-year, federal-provincial-territorial initiative from 2018-2023.