“What’s in it for us?” Producers urge agtech startups to think about solutions which will drive profitability
Farmers have been, and will continue, to adopt agtech innovation and inventions. Despite calls that primary producers are halting the agtech adoption curve, some experts are saying that it’s not the producer but rather, the sales pitch which could be the problem.
Remote water trough monitoring, advanced genetic breeding, automatic feeders, more accurate supplementation; at evokeAG. 2020, Bruce Creek and Michael Wilkes from Thomas Elder Consulting took delegates on a big-picture journey of some of the latest, most innovative technologies out there for livestock producers.
In the Elders Platinum Partner Masterclass, the duo explored how technology will help producers meet the greater demand for red meat production whilst competing with higher land values and increasing variability in climate, which are pressuring our livestock production systems.
“Farmers are very rapid adopters of technology that makes sense and adds value to them,” said Mr Creek.
At the end of day, we need to be accountable to our consumers and trace the story behind our product. This is becoming increasingly important. But, for a lot of tech out there, there is poor value proposition. We are pretty good adopters if there is something in there for us but we need to understand how it’s going to drive production and profitability.”
The rise of genetic technologies and breeding was touted as the technology which livestock producers will see and hear more about in the future.
“Genetic technologies are the buzz word at the moment. The cost is coming down considerably and the results are impressive. Actually measuring true genetic expression of the animal and the association between known production traits so that we can select the best of the best is transforming our industry,” said Mr Creek.
“At the moment, we go out in the paddock, we might think we know the best sire and we make our selection. Imagine if we can know the underlying traits. The best might not be the prettiest or shiniest. We will know their genetic details and have an insight into what’s happening under the hide,” he added.
Mr Wilkes insisted that the technologies which come to market need to both collect data, and analyse it for the producer so that management decisions can be made.
“You cannot manage what you don’t know and what you aren’t measuring. It’s as simple as that,” said Mr Wilkes.
When delegates were asked to raise their hands if they thought precision livestock technologies were being well-adopted across the industry, Mr Wilkes and Mr Creek were met with a idle audience.
“The technology out there for livestock still has a way to go. There are a lot more challenges including the fact that we are dealing with animals. The tech is exposed, affected by climate and often meets animals on four legs.
“Irrespective of what and how we are measuring – the ease with how the technology is used is highly critical. We need to make sure that data is integrated. Mainly to increase the ease of record keeping and merging multiple pieces of data to calculate performance metrics.
“Producers are after better support to interpret the info that we are gathering. Whether that’s external support with the supplier or an aligned independent consultant. Not just sales support – real support is what we need,” said Mr Wilkes.
Once startups can identify the clear return on investment, and help the producers use the technology efficiently and effectively, Mr Wilkes and Mr Creek agreed that it’s up to the producers to take the reins.
“Technology is only as good as the management decision you make,” Mr Creek said.