Winter Farm has been awarded $2.9 million by Sustainable Development Technologies Canada (SDTC) for the implementation of phase II of its project located in Vaudreuil and for the development of CERVEAU, an artificial intelligence-based system to automate decisions pertaining to grow room controls. Using mechanical and agronomic data, CERVEAU will help optimize the agronomic performance and energy efficiency of the Winter Farm and its adjacent greenhouse complex.
“As the name implies, CERVEAU (brain, in English) will be the central control element in our vertical farming solution. STDC’s support establishes the role that our technology can play to ensure sustainable and local development of food resources,” says Alain Brisebois, President and Chief Executive Officer of Winter Farm. “CERVEAU will become an additional asset that will make our operations and those of our grower partners more productive, ecological, and profitable.”
Winter Farm offers an off-season farming model that is capable of providing fresh and local produce for the population while contributing to reaching Quebec’s and Canada’s sustainable development goals. As an example, in a Canadian context, it is estimated that for its 2022 production alone, CERVEAU will help achieve water savings equal to roughly 10 Olympic pools and a reduction of GHG emissions equal to 8 Paris-NYC flights! Moreover, no chemical pesticides are used or dispersed in the environment.
Benefits for Quebec and Canada
In the indoor farming sector, climate control, environment and crop monitoring systems are still very fragmented. This makes them prone to error, less efficient and prevents next generation industrial control solutions from being implemented. CERVEAU will be using a holistic approach to work around these obstacles and improve financial, agronomical and ecological performance of its production units and the greenhouses where they would be integrated.
“Artificial intelligence and machine learning are critical in helping Canada and Quebec to address food security and sustainable development issues. Various research and innovation programs have been valuable assets in promoting the development of our solution, which has quickly become one of the best in the industry. CERVEAU will help us reaching our corporate goals and contribute to the growth of the agtech community, thanks to the many industrial and university partnerships that we have developed over the years. This is a source of pride for me and for Winter Farm.” – Yves Daoust, founder and Chief Operating Officer at Winter Farm.
Three academic groups, the Laboratory of Thermal and Building Science of École des technologies supérieures, the Department of Computer Science and Operations Research of Université de Montréal and the Department of Decision Sciences of HEC Montréal, will be involved at various levels to support Winter Farm in the development of this project. Additionally, Winter Farm’s affiliation with the Institut de valorisation des données (IVADO) will contribute further to harvest the academic-industrial exchanges as part of CERVEAU’s development. These collaborations will help improving the company’s skill set regarding environmental modelling, artificial intelligence, machine learning and the Internet of Things.
“Off-season production of high-nutrition foods is an important challenge towards achieving food autonomy. Winter Farm’s vertical farming solution offers maximized grow space utility, increased production capacity and considerable economic and environmental advantage for the local communities," said Leah Lawrence, president and CEO of SDTC.