Steinbach's Ellery Burton and his tech company CleanTrace arrived home from Manitoba Ag Days in Brandon last week with some silverware.
Burton says CleanTrace makes a new RFID tag that helps farmers and processors track livestock.
“It most often is an ear tag, it can go around their neck, but it's basically like a license plate, that's the way I think of it. If you want to track a specific animal, you don't know whether it's animal one or animal two, or Betsy, or what it is until you put a license plate or a serial number on it. So, that's really all it is, is a unique number for each animal that you have.”
RFID tracking tags already exist in the livestock world, but Burton says their patented, heat-release technology makes it easier for producers to collect and reuse tags, lowering costs considerably.
Burton says data from this type of tracking is becoming more and more valuable, especially for large integrated processors like HyLife and Maple Leaf Foods.
“Our vision is to take that data and apply some artificial intelligence as people call it, or machine learning. Really, it's just advanced analytics or pattern recognition and you can really start to determine what to feed your animals, what type of water might be best for them, all these different things."
Just last week, Burton says CleanTrace brought their technology to Manitoba Ag Days.
“It's Canada's largest indoor agriculture show, so it's pretty neat for anybody from Manitoba. We entered into the Innovation Showcase Challenge and ended up winning first place with the CleanTrace technology. It was really exciting and really special, my family was there, came to visit, my grandfather is 89 years old, he's still farming, so it was pretty special.”
Burton notes a win like this is very encouraging and lets the whole team know they are working in the right direction.
“I think for me it's also a bit of validation that people understood what we were doing and thought it was innovative. It's always great to win some type of award and I think me and Chip Martens and some of the people on our team, my wife, we're pretty excited about it. It's pretty neat after a few years of hard work.”
And they aren’t the only ones making waves. Burton notes there are some exciting new tech companies in Steinbach these days.
“It's really exciting. I think of Mode40 as another company, Cam Bergen, and Matt Kehler, and there's lots of others that are doing it. I think our generation is able to understand some of those technologies and bring them into the farming space and solve some big problems.”