HOW ANIMAL AGRICULTURE AND SUSTAINABILITY ARE ALIGNED BY TECHNOLOGY.
Panelists will be discussing opportunities and expectations for the livestock industry to become even more sustainable in the future at the Animal AgTech Innovation Summit this week.
among the panelists are:.
The Daily Churn editor and moderator Tafline Laylin.
Jordan Kraft Lambert, vice president of business development at dairy software and data analytics firm Valley Ag Source.
CEO of the Dutch company Lely, which makes equipment for the dairy sector, Andre van Troost.
Matthew Wadiak is the founder and CEO of Cooks Venture Poultry, which provides consumers with beef that has been entirely grass-fed and finished as well as pasture-raised heirloom chicken.
HOW CAN PRODUCERS, TAKING FUTURE DEMANDS ON THE FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN INTO ACCOUNT, SWITCH TO REGENERATIVE AG PRACTICES ON A LARGE SCALE?
Wadiak: It is feasible to convert land to more sensible systems that use less synthetic and petrochemical inputs. It is possible to feed an enormous number of people by raising crops that naturally grow in better rotations, which can be added to animal diets, avian diets, and pork diets.
We can advance agriculture, but that won’t happen unless we use selection criteria to alter the genetic makeup of animals. By reducing the use of synthetic inputs, modern technology and knowledge will enable the production of food that is not only scalable and sustainable for the future but also healthier and better for us as individuals.
Kraft Lambert: Regenerative agriculture is a lovely new movement, but it also incorporates time-tested methods that have been used for a very long time. Another way to do this is to feed a high-efficiency, scientifically calibrated ration to animals in barns. Getting ideas from these various environments and practices is crucial because of the diversity of biomes on the planet and the economies in which we live.
Each farmer must then be able to choose the course of action that is best for their particular business.
Wadiak: When you choose an animal breed for a certain feedstock’s digestibility because that is the feedstock that is readily available, you enter a system where the use of land and the use of animals are intertwined. The system will be harmful to the animal if it depends on chemicals like glyphosate, dicamba, and ammonium nitrate, all of which are bad for the environment.
The answer lies in fusing agriculture with nature in a way that can be symbiotic to the biology of the soil, to the biology of the animal, and healthier for people. We spend a lot of money on artificial inputs and the subsidies that support them, but it would be better to put that money back into the hands of the farmers and into our bodies so that we could eat healthier food that can be produced year after year without depleting the soil.
Van Troost: We refer to ourselves as farming innovators, and we can only do this by making significant innovations. Future consumers, in my opinion, will have very high standards for the animal proteins they choose to buy.
Through traceability, they will want to know the origin of the product, the treatment of the animals, the emissions produced by the farms, etc. Consumers will have a significant voice and will favor goods that improve the environment.
HOW WILL THE NARRATIVE AROUND THE INTRINSIC SUSTAINABILITY OF ANIMAL AG BE CHANGED?
We tell the truth, so in order to determine what the truth is, we must gather accurate data, according to Kraft Lambert. We must remain receptive to the truth revealed by the data and confront whatever it reveals. For instance, 20 years ago we weren’t always as careful about manure entering rivers and streams, but now we are very careful about that, and I believe that’s because we did a good job of accepting the reality of that situation.
Then, in response to that truth, we can be imaginative. When we combine the best components of a conventional system with a regenerative ag system to create something entirely new that will meet future human needs while being environmentally friendly, that is innovation.
And we need to communicate that truth in a way that our customers can understand it; we need to make the data we’re gathering relevant to customers, and we need to be very consistent with our messaging.
WHAT SOLUTIONS ALLOW US TO SEEK SUSTAINABILITY WHILE INCREASING PRODUCTIVITY?
Van Troost: I’m very enthusiastic about all of the current sustainability initiatives in the business world. Urban agriculture, organic agriculture, and vertical agriculture are all growing. We observe the use of GPS and drones for precise agricultural practices, as well as robots in the dairy sector to improve milk production and cow health.
Circular farming, which entails working with rather than against the environment, is another approach I think offers a solution. Food waste must be kept to a minimum, raw materials need to be used more effectively on farms, and local production needs to be encouraged whenever possible.
Kraft Lambert: The remarkable genetic progress made in the area of feed efficiency. The methane digester is yet another area that I find to be fascinating. Methane digesters were once thought to be a good idea on paper but were unsuccessful economically. The financial model has undergone significant innovation over the past 10 to 15 years, and as a result, they are now a sought-after technology. More innovators overcoming trade-offs that have prevented adoption in other fields excites me.