More food, particularly animal protein, combined with the demands for food safety assurance and environmental constraints will call for improved farm efficiency, according to speakers at the Cargill Animal Nutrition Seminar held in June 2015 in The Netherlands.
The 250 attendees from 35 countries focussed on meeting the needs of an additional 2 billion population by 2050, and how farm efficiency could be increased.
Opening the seminar, keynote speaker Louise Fresco, President of the Executive Board at Wageningen University, The Netherlands, told the audience of feed industry specialists that she believes that producers have great potential to increase efficiency. She named two key areas that would play a big part in achieving this; information technology and labour efficiency.
Hand held devises
Technology will help improve labour productivity, through new mechanisation and particularly important will be hand held devises that can gather data and provide immediate information. She stressed the need to optimise productivity, but added that there is not a single solution. Professor Fresco told the audience that "Big Data will improve efficiency right through the food chain."
Big Data and its role in improving farm efficiency was highlighted by Jorgen Heizenberg from global market intelligence guru company Capgemini. Heizenberg discussed systems in operation that record animal activities and performance but suggested that much of this data was historic and using this to improve farm efficiency was like "driving forward but looking through the rear view mirror." It had some value, but it was limited, he said.
Heizenberg said that ideally this data needs to be more current and more agile so it could be used for better decision making. He also highlighted the need for using 'internal' and 'external' data, stating that Big Data is a combination of volume, velocity and variety.
He urged the industry to capture more data, increase the detail and look for outside data by connecting with the supply chain. He believes that by doing this, farm efficiency can improve significantly.
Improving farm efficiency in ruminant, swine and poultry sectors
Day 2 of the Animal Nutrition Seminar focussed on the key areas of improving farm efficiency in the ruminant, swine and poultry sectors and how each sector might improve in the challenge of feeding a growing population. Cargill's strategic marketing and technology director for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Adriaan Smulders believes that great progress has been made - quoting that in the 63 years to 2007 a billion litres of milk was produced from 21% less cows, 35% less water, 10% less soil and with a carbon print 37% lower than in 1944. Despite limited additional land, based on this progress in the global dairy sector, he felt confident that farm efficiency in each livestock sector could improve to meet the global food demands in future.