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New ways to learn from Farming Smarter

For some, the ability to walk a virtual tour, at a time of their choosing and without having to step foot off the farm opens a learning opportunity that did not exist before now. 

A leafcutter bee tent VR360
A screen capture from the leafcutter VR video tour
Check it out here

Farming Smarter can see that communication technologies just keep opening new ways of learning and wants to make sure Alberta’s agriculture system takes advantage of all of them. 

In 2019, it began a project to produce high quality virtual tours of research projects so that anyone, anywhere can learn from interactive immersive learning experiences. 

Canadian Agriculture Partnership funded the project for three years under the Accelerating the Advancement of Agricultural Innovation Program.    

This program “supports innovations that are new to Alberta or new to the agriculture sector.” It is the one CAP program that supports projects specifically based on improving knowledge transfer from research to on-farm. 

Farming Smarter took aim at making research sharable with more people at home. Its project is called Enhancing Science Adoption with Modern Communication Tools -Virtual Reality, 360-degree videos, Podcasts and Apps. Its partner, Lethbridge College, provides technical expertise and production services to produce high quality products.

Its goals are 1. Develop creative and engaging new ways to deliver scientific findings and 2. Increase adoption and awareness of best management practices. 

The project takes advantage of 360 video tours, podcasts and a new Farming Smarter mobile app. These on the go options are perfect for people interested in Farming Smarter’s work, but un-able to attend live Learning Adventures. 

Minister Dreeshen experiences a leaf cutter bee tent in VR at an event in 2019.

The 360-degree video experiences allow viewers to tour current projects. Viewers can look around a landscape, click on marked points of interest and learn more about the project. Housed online, anyone with an internet connection can take these tours. You can try out one of these tours on the Biobed project page

The podcasts allow farmers to download a Farming Smarte interview with a researcher and listen to it while working away from WIFI. Farming Smarter staff sit down and discuss agricultural research with active researchers. The content covers a wide array of ag-related stories in a casual and transparent manner. Eight podcasts are posted on Farming Smarter’s website or Soundcloud channel.  

Year one produced eight podcasts and two 360 immersive experiences. Farming Smarter will track on-line analytics to determine the success of these projects/products. By year three, it should know if this is a type of learning farmers appreciate and find useful. 

If you enjoy these products, send comments to project lead Jamie Puchinger.