Transforming Today’s Global Livestock Industry Through Digital Innovation

Aidan Connolly, CEO at Cainthus & President at AgriTech Capital

There is an urgent need for digital innovation in today’s livestock sector if it is to sustainably produce enough animal protein to meet rising global demand. The Animal AgTech Innovation Summit in San Francisco (March 16) will identify which digital tools offer the greatest potential value to farmers, and explore new models to accelerate the adoption of data-driven solutions, with discussions led by industry figures including Cainthus, Cargill and OptiFarm.

Challenges Facing Digital Innovation and Adoption
There are a number of challenges to overcome in the digital space with many technologies not fit for purpose. Aidan Connolly, CEO at Cainthus & President at AgriTech Capital, says: “Some of these technologies do not work on a farm, because the person inventing them has never been on a farm, the people inventing it don’t understand the challenges that exist on a farm, and the technology breaks down too easily once it gets into a farm situation.

“You need to have people on your team who come from a farming background, have them on your advisory board and test your product on a farm or multiple farms before launching. The technology may look as though it would work in a farm environment but does not mean it will work in a farm environment.”

Another challenge is the cost of implementation according to SriRaj Kantamneni, Managing Director, Digital Insights at Cargill. “We know that farm economics are one of the top barriers to farmers implementing new technologies. We expect the cost of technologies, such as sensors, to come down over time – we also expect such tools to become easier to implement. We need to communicate the return on investment of technologies too. For example, our customers report an average of a 3.5% margin improvement after using a recommendation from our dynamic predictive broiler software.”

SriRaj Kantamneni, Managing Director, Digital Insights at Cargill

Considering investment opportunities appears to be a concern for David Speller, Founder and CEO at OptiFarm. “Many solutions are available, and many have cost justifications, but the volume of evidence simply isn’t there yet to prove without any doubt which investments are sounder than others in your own specific situation.

“I believe anyone implementing in this digital age must first be clear about their own personal digital strategies, what they want to achieve and over what timescale. Go on a journey and consider if you have all the skills internally to achieve your goals or whether you need assistance from outside specialist service providers.”

Opportunities in the Digital Space
The biggest opportunity for digital innovation in global livestock is measuring in real time the data relating to growth, performance and animal health. There is very little capture of what happens during the entire lifetime of an animal. Some may believe that we are very precise in how we feed the animal, but in fact there is a lot of imprecision because of the lack of correlation of basic numbers such as weight, stress, body temperature and other stressors relating to meat quality.

Connolly clarifies: “We can start to measure those through sensors, artificial intelligence, machine vision, stretching into IoT, blockchain and robotics. These things could be influential in increasing the productivity and addressing the issues of animal welfare and sustainability of animal production.”

Kantamneni adds: “We want to partner with producers to help them create new data, make that data available real-time, simplify the collection and integration of data, and find critical and actionable insights from that data.”

David Speller, Founder and CEO at OptiFarm

New Technologies on the Horizon
Kantamneni is excited about the potential of data management in helping farmers achieve success.   “Our investment in Agrinessgoes beyond data collection and insight capabilities to offer a holistic program of continuous improvement to help farms reach their full potential. This combination of technology and deep expertise in animal nutrition and production is the key to improving predictions such as productivity and optimal harvest time – and ultimately making our industry more productive, efficient and sustainable.”

With digital innovation making headway in the animal agtech space, it’s crucial that farmers and producers have the data they need to make informed decisions about the welfare of their animals.

Smart livestock farming, traceability and transparency will be the subject of two sessions at the  Animal AgTech Innovation Summit on March 16 in San Francisco, where over 350+ livestock producers, animal health providers, feed companies, ingredients manufacturers, start-ups and investors will focus on building a sustainable, high-welfare livestock industry through innovation, collaboration and investment.

Digital innovation-focused sessions on the agenda include:

  • Smart Livestock Farming: Transforming Data into Meaningful, Actionable, Integrated Insights with insights from Cainthus, AgriTech Capital, Cargill, Perdue Foods, Allflex Livestock Intelligence (a Merck Company), itk and Breedr.
  • Traceability and Transparency: Harnessing Traceability Tools to Provide ‘Food with a Story’ and Unlock Added Value with insights from Rabobank, Danone North America, OptiFarm, Pilgrim’s, Proagrica and Performance Livestock Analytics
  • Meet the digital innovators with breakthrough technologies ranging from A.I., machine vision, poultry barn robotics and autonomous livestock monitoring. These include: CattleEye, Faromatics, Hencol, BinSentry, H20 Alert and Moonsyst