Nurturing Innovation: ARIF Projects Revolutionizing Soil Health

Posted on Monday, October 30th, 2023

Written by Kaleigh Rajna

A worker crouches to inspect crops growing in a greenhouse

In September’s article, we delved into the urgency of addressing soil health challenges and the collaborative strides taken by the Research Innovation Office in collaboration with Innovation North. Our commitment to a flourishing future fueled our efforts, culminating in a transformative April event to serve as a crucible for innovative solutions to improve soil health. Now, as we transition from theory to action, we shine a spotlight on the Amplifying Research Impact Fund (ARIF) projects that started this fall - a testament to our unwavering dedication to catalyzing the change needed to reinvigorate our soil's vitality.

Using Innovation North’s Compass and a systems-thinking approach, we have paved the way for a series of projects that promise to reimagine soil health management. Our commitment to innovation takes form in four remarkable ARIF projects of $40K funded by Food from Thought, each poised to leave an indelible mark on the landscape of soil health and sustainability. Led by esteemed faculty members from the University of Guelph and their industry partners, these initiatives embody our vision for a thriving agri-food future:

Confirming and Scaling up Soil Tests using Sensors
Professor Asim Biswas spearheads a pioneering endeavor to revolutionize soil testing through sensor technology. Collaborating with industry partner Haggerty AgRobotics, this project aims to streamline soil tests, providing actionable insights for enhanced agricultural practices. This sensor could have a profound transformation in how we understand and nurture our soils.

Ontario Sheep Farmers: Grazing for Hire
Enter a groundbreaking partnership between Professors Felix Arndt, Audrey Jamal, Elizabeth Kurucz, Kim Schneider, and the Ontario Sheep Farmers. This project tackles sustainability through an innovative lens, exploring the potential of “renting” grazing sheep to landowners to improve the soil. By leveraging this unique approach, they hope to harmonize ecological and economic prosperity in the agri-food industry.

Enabling No-till Corn and Soybean Production in High-residue Environments
Professors Joshua Nasielski and David Hooker join forces with industry partner Susterre to confront a cornerstone of modern agriculture: no-till farming. This project aspires to enhance planter components with high-pressure water jets, enabling efficient no-till practices even in high-residue environments. Through this innovation, they reimagine the very foundation of agricultural productivity.

Development of Iron Oxide Nanoparticles for Soil Improvement
At the forefront of scientific innovation, Professors Ashutosh Singh and Abdallah Elsayed spearhead a venture that bridges nanotechnology and soil health. Collaborating with Woodleigh Farms and Peak Harvest Agritech, this project explores the transformative potential of iron oxide nanoparticles to enhance soil quality and productivity.

These projects resonate with our shared vision for a sustainable tomorrow, embodying the seeds of transformation we aim to cultivate and nurture, each a beacon illuminating the path to a thriving future. As these innovators journey from concept to reality, the ARIF projects epitomize the University of Guelph's resolute commitment to innovative, sustainable change. The silent crisis of soil health demands our united action, and as these projects take root, we urge you to join us in nurturing innovation, safeguarding our soils, and cultivating a prosperous future. Together, let's amplify our research impact and transform tomorrow's agri-food landscape.

Interested in opportunities to transform tomorrow’s agrifood landscape or want to be part of similar opportunities in the future? Complete our survey and we’d be happy to connect with you.

Food from Thought is a research program at the University of Guelph funded in part by a $76.6-million grant from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund. Food from Thought will position Canada as a global leader in the development of innovative solutions that improve both the sustainability and productivity of agricultural production at global, landscape, and micro scales.

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