“We do not have to travel to planet Mars to feed our world in the future. We will manage that challenge on earth itself, even if the worlds population grows to 9 or even 10 billion people, with 4 billion living in Africa alone,” stated Louise Fresco in her opening speech at the start of the 2-day international agricultural innovation fair GFIA at the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Both at the high level top conference as in the more practical poultry session in the Future Farming, Poultry World, Proagrica arena, smart farming solutions were presented as the way forward in the quest to produce more food.
Within the coming decades food production must double, and at the same time become even more sustainable. “We need game-changing innovations,” said Secretary of State Martijn van Dam.
There is a revolution going on in agriculture and it is based on spectacular developments in areas such as data traffic and genetics. One of the consequences of the data revolution is that the tracking and tracing problems will disappear. It won’t take long, according to Ms Fresco, before there is a chip with all production and tracking and tracing information in all packaging that leaves the supermarket. The use of smartphones in developing countries means that farmers suddenly have access to information that has been unavailable so far, weather, crop development and yields. However; Ms Fresco’s biggest concern is not the technology or logistics of food production, but consumer acceptance of modern production methods. “This does not work if consumers do not realise the importance of innovation. That’s my real fear. Do we invest enough in that? The consumer is distrustful. We must win their heart and mind.”
Several practical applications of smart data solutions for the poultry industry were presented on the second day of the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA). Sergio Guerra, data specialist from Aviagen, Daren Suntych, CEO and founder at Xiant Technologies and Jens Dybdahl, Managing Director at DACS shared the latest developments in big data, lighting and climate control. Guerra emphasised that intuition and stockmanship are still valuable tools in modern animal husbandry, but cannot do without data driven decisions. “The companies that are able to successfully combine expertise with data science, will outperform their competitors”, Guerra stated. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure and share within your company.”
Daren Suntych took the Poultry World seminar attendees on a journey into novel lighting technologies. With different techniques of using pulsating lights, Xiant Technologies is able to influence important production parameters while saving on energy at the same time. His technology breaks with traditional day and night cycles as lights are pulsing continuously, 24 hours a day, maximising sustained growth and control. The third speaker at the Poultry World seminar, Jens Dybdahl, harnessed the natural light from the sun to go partially or even totally off grid with poultry house ventilation. Modern ventilation equipment, together with PV cells and smart inverter systems make poultry operations possible in even the most remote places in the world. Dybdahl: “For remote places, places with unreliable power supply or even reliable, but expensive power, the system is a viable option. The future is about maximum production, without down time and/or spoilage due to electrical outages.”