MANAGEMENT STRATEGIES

The rise of agtech to feed the world (Part 1)

 

Technology is disrupting all industries, and livestock farming is no exception. The rise of agricultural technologies enables the sector to take farming to the next level of being socially responsible and economically efficient.

Trouw Nutrition

by Siobhan Collins on 11.03.2021

 

According to the United Nations, the global population is set to exceed 9 billion by 2050. This trend, combined with increased urbanisation, rising incomes and changes in consumer eating habits, will have a substantial influence on livestock production as the demand for high quality protein increases. Producing enough food to meet this demand will certainly be a challenge, as producers face further and further environmental legislation and restrictions. But while producing “enough food” is something producers need to meet, consumers and society demand more food of higher quality that is produced in a sustainable and ethical manner. Systems that demonstrate sustainable production practices and improved animal welfare are no longer a consumer driven trend but rather a license to operate.

 

Agtech becomes more integrated

 

The beef sector has already faced many unprecedented challenges over the last ten years that are not only related to consumer demands and the environmental impact of beef, but also weather, uncertainty in the marketplace, fluctuating commodity prices and subsequently the rising costs of production. Like every other agriculture sector, efficiency is the main driver of profit in the beef industry. In an effort to improve the efficiency of production and animal welfare, the beef sector is experiencing a much needed injection of new innovations in the agricultural technology (agtech) and big data space. And while technological change has been the main driver for increased productivity and output in agriculture over the last decade, it is beginning to become more integrated in the agri-food chain. This has been as a result of the industry striving to contribute to the overall welfare impact of production by producing enough quality beef in a manner that is socially responsible and economically efficient. 

 

Technology is rapidly evolving

 

Agtech is about finding new ways and solutions to address these challenges, as farmers cannot rely solely on their assumptions. There are a wide range of digital technologies that are expected to play an even bigger role in not only improving how producers monitor and manage the health, nutrition and performance of their herds, but also in helping them turn these challenges into opportunities. Some technologies such as sensors and robotics have developed specific solutions for the beef sector. And others like artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain that have been successfully applied in other sectors and could be used to improve traceability and recapture value in the sector. But one thing for sure is, technological developments in the beef sector are rapidly evolving and decreasing in costs, making them much more accessible for everyone.

 

Click here to read about some of the existing and emerging technology trends for beef cattle

 

References
  1. Del Castillo A, Robotics in the meat industry, a sign of times to come? 2017
  2. Wang, A. O. Fapojuwo and R. J. Davies, "A Wireless Sensor Network for Feedlot Animal Health Monitoring," in IEEE Sensors Journal, vol. 16, no. 16, pp. 6433-6446, Aug.15, 2016, doi: 10.1109/JSEN.2016.2582438.
  3. PwC” Sizing the prize What’s the real value of AI for your business and how can you capitalise?”, 2017.
  4. Suresh Neethirajan, The role of sensors, big data and machine learning in modern animal farming, Sensing and Bio-Sensing Research,Volume 29, 2020, 100367, ISSN 2214-1804