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Alberta Yield: Zignar Technologies is using data to help producers grow better

Gianfranco Campos had the idea of creating better interoperability in Alberta’s agriculture industry back in 2019.

Quite often, Campos said, farmers have data sets in silos. Their information is isolated, as it often can be in the Internet of Things (IoT) world.

Ten years ago, IoT devices weren’t talking to each other. Today, they’re talking to each other, sending data to a cloud.

“The data is trapped there because one vendor doesn’t talk to the other one,” Campos said.

Campos is co-founder of Grande Prairie-based Zignar Technologies. Their focus is on helping Alberta’s agriculture community gather the data and then make it available throughout the supply chain.

Right now, Campos said it’s a situation where even though there are documents certifying the quality of the products, people still often have to take a sample, cut it in half and see what’s in it.

“That applies not only for agriculture, but any industry right now,” Campos said.

“What the future brings us is smart decentralization.”

There are dozens of applications for this type of technology, in everything from environmental monitoring, to maintenance detection on equipment.

Ag application

Campos said one application they have is a device that measures the environment around a plant. It measures the temperature, humidity, soil level and luminosity.

That information is transferred through distributed ledger technology (DLT) in a blockchain format, he said.

The data that’s aggregated creates a data frame. The end product is data that is very specific to the stimulus of the plant environment.  That helps trigger events that can help control the environment.

All of the data continues to be captured. When harvest time arrives, this data can be used to show the chain of environmental events throughout the life of the crop.

“It’s not anymore like, I have the super best organic plants, and I have the best organic, or like the most clean water in this process. The farmers will have a way to support themselves with a product,” he said.

With the data all collected, vendors and consumers can see the value chain and how the product was derived. Campos said anyone can audit the data and you can get details on the production.

Trust is a big issue in the industry. How can you trust data that is recorded by a producer via spreadsheet or database.

“That’s a big problem, right. And the way that this problem is being solved is by making the data immutable,” Campos said.

Internal changes

Campos said that working with the Alberta Yield program helped Zignar Technologies helped them simplify their approach.

They come from a technical field and sometimes the language doesn’t always translate to producers.

“At the beginning… we were very, very technical. But now we even simplified everything, like from top to bottom, of how to make these understandable for the farmer,” Campos said.

“At the end of the day, the farmer is the one who is going to decide if this is useful or not.”

Right now, Zignar Technologies is operating in five countries, including Canada, Mexico and Japan.  Campos sees this as a technology that can be used worldwide.

“Our vision is to go worldwide with this solution,” Campos said.

“We are developing our wide class platform. But we have to start small and grow.”

Campos said their technology is also a candidate for use at the Mars Institute where it would be tested in the Mojave Desert.