Looking to support and augment southern Alberta’s agriculture industry, Lethbridge College has introduced its first applied research chair in Agricultural Engineering and Technology. Dr. Chandra Singh joins the college’s Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CARIE) as the latest stop in a distinguished professional and academic career.
Dr. Singh’s work will include the creation of an Advanced Postharvest Innovation Centre. During his professional career, which included five years working as Principal Engineer and Grain Management Specialist with OPIsystems, a grain management technology company based in Calgary, Dr. Singh noticed a gap in postharvest handling and storage of produce and grains in southern Alberta. He says production and processing methods in this region are already world-class but he wants to help minimize the loss felt by producers once their crops are out of the field.
“There is already significant research infrastructure and support for crop, dairy and livestock production in this region,” says Dr. Singh. “What is missing is a focus on postharvest handling and storage of fresh produce and grains. The goal is to minimize postharvest losses, and improve profitability, product quality, safety and traceability for producers.”
Raised on a small family farm in India, Dr. Singh completed an undergraduate degree in Agricultural Engineering, a master’s degree in Postharvest Engineering and a PhD in Biosystems Engineering, giving him a rare and sought-after combination of expertise in both equipment and technologies, as well as an understanding of the science of agriculture. He was most recently an Associate Professor of Engineering at the University of Southern Australia jointly co-appointed by Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), Australia’s national research organization.
He will work within CARIE to create industry partnerships and research opportunities with the local agricultural community. He will also work closely with other Lethbridge College researchers, instructors and students within the college’s Collaborative Centre of Excellence in Agriculture.
“We are very pleased to have Dr. Singh join our applied research team,” says Dr. Kenny Corscadden, Associate Vice President – Research. “He adds a vital component to our existing research chairs as an agricultural engineer and will be an excellent resource for the growing agricultural industry in Lethbridge, particularly with regard to improving yields and adding value in postharvest innovation.”
In his new role, Dr. Singh’s goal is to develop postharvest engineering solutions using advancements in sensing, automation, IOT, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, AI, machine vision, hyperspectral imaging and mathematical modeling. Agriculture is a $1.1 billion industry (farm gate value) in southern Alberta with diverse crop production. The area features over 120 agri-food businesses, including world-leading food processors.
“Even when I worked in Calgary, I didn’t fully realize how large and important this industry is in southern Alberta,” says Dr. Singh. “Agriculture has unlimited potential and everybody involved should be promoting what southern Alberta can offer. I look forward to working with our partners to create solutions that will benefit everyone.”
Dr. Singh began his new role in August and is working to establish partnerships and opportunities. Those interested in partnering or learning more are encouraged to contact CARIE at 403-320-3203 ext. 5453.
Through its highly-adaptable and collaborative learning environment and its future-focused training and research programs, Lethbridge College’s Collaborative Centre of Excellence in Agriculture is fast becoming a hub for agricultural research and innovation. The college is a proven player in the industry, with faculty, staff and partners who are resourceful, understand farming, embrace innovation, focus on the college’s vision and lead the way with data-driven agriculture.
The Centre for Applied Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a catalyst for economic growth, sustainability and social development in the region that brings together community organizations, researchers and students to collaborate on projects that use new or existing knowledge to solve real-world challenges with immediate practical applications.
Dr. Chandra Singh, a Professional Engineer registered in Alberta, completed his undergraduate degree in Agricultural Engineering from the G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology and masters in Postharvest Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), both in India. He then moved to Canada and obtained his PhD in Biosystems Engineering from the University of Manitoba. His doctoral research was focused on Detection of Insect and Fungal Damage and Incidence of Sprouting in Stored Wheat using Near-infrared (NIR) Hyperspectral and Digital Colour Imaging. He conducted postdoctoral research at the Canadian Wheat Board Centre for Grain Storage Research in Winnipeg. In his postdoctoral research work, Dr. Singh used synchrotron sourced infrared imaging to detect damage in wheat and canola caused by molds.
Prior to assuming the role of Applied Research Chair at the Lethbridge College, Dr. Singh was Associate Professor at the University of South Australia. Dr. Singh worked in industry for nearly five years as grain management expert and principal engineer in an international grain management technology company based in Calgary.