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Future of Agriculture

Welcome to the Future of Agriculture Podcast with Tim Hammerich. This show explores the people, companies, and ideas shaping the future of agribusiness. If you are curious about innovations in AgTech, rural entrepreneurship, agricultural sustainability, and food security, this is the show for you! For more details on the guests featured on this show, visit the blog at www.FutureOfAg.com. Or, to learn more about career opportunities in agriculture, visit www.AgGrad.com Make sure you’re subscribed so you can catch another fascinating ag innovator next week!
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Sep 30, 2020

Can a farmer transition from the commodity market into a full-scale direct-to-consumer brand? 

The answer is “yes”, and David Newman is proof. 

But this isn’t a story of an overnight success. The transition for Newman Farm has been in the works since the 1990s. Over the past 20 years he has learned many lessons, and he was kind enough to share some of them on this episode. 

This is a special episode of the “Future of Agriculture” Podcast because for the first time, the interview did not include our usual host, Tim Hammerich. Guest co-host Janette Barnard sourced the story and interviewed David. 

*Be sure to subscribe to Janette’s weekly newsletter about innovation in the animal agriculture value chain: primefuture.substack.com

 

David and Janette discuss: 

  • Transitioning from a commodity focus to building a brand
  • Finding the right strategy for growth
  • How COVID-19 has impacted their business
  • The need for reinvention no matter how traditional your industry
  • The challenges of a branded product with direct customer access
  • The importance of relationships and growing with partners
  • Advice to others interested in making a similar transition

 

*As a bonus, this episode includes a “Startup Spotlight” segment at the end, which features Janelle Maiocco, Founder and CEO of Barn2Door, which is a software that David Newman has used to grow his business. 

Sep 23, 2020

We've seen the rise of alternative energy and alternative protein, could alternative plastic be next? 

Mark Remmert is the CEO of Green Dot Bioplastics. This fascinating company manufactures low-cost, biodegradable materials for a variety of uses. 

There is an obvious sustainability story here, but it's also a peek into what can be a rapidly growing company and industry segment in the coming decades. 

Green Dot is a portfolio company of Fulcrum Global Capital, who partnered with us on this episode. Duane Cantrell, Kevin Lockett, and John Peryam join Tim to introduce the episode and provide their perspective on why they invested in Green Dot. 

What are your thoughts on the future of bioplastics?  

Sep 16, 2020

Daren Williams joins the show to help us better understand the role of producer-led commodity groups. Daren is the Senior Director of Global Communications at the Almond Board of California. He has worked in agricultural communications for over 30 years, much of that with producer-led commodity groups like almonds, beef, apple, dairy and pork. 

 

The Almond Board of California supports all 7,600 almond growers, as well as many others in the almond growing community from suppliers and beekeepers to farmers and buyers. Almonds are one of the fastest growing crops in California, and the Almond Board has cast a vision for the industry that includes goals to improve by 2025 in water use efficiency, dust reduction, zero waste, and pest management. 

 

“We fund research and production techniques. We validate techniques at work and if it's beneficial and cost effective and can help improve the return on investment for the grower, we roll it out to the industry and make sure everybody knows about it.” Daren Williams

 

While the Almond Board of California is a federal marketing order program, we also discuss checkoff programs in this episode. Operating under a slightly different framework, the purpose of these groups also relates to the research and promotion of the commodity. In Daren’s previous position, he worked with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which is a contractor to the beef checkoff. 

 

“If (consumers) see us working together and trying to solve the issues and things that they’re concerned about, they develop trust in them, the industries, and I think trust is a critical issue for farmers and ranchers. In many cases, we’ve lost it and we need to regain it with consumers and let them know we really do have their best interests at heart when we make decisions about how we’re going to grow their food because we’re also going to be putting it on our dinner tables.” - Daren Williams

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Daren Williams, Senior Director of Global Communications at the Almond Board of California
  • Better understand marketing orders, check off programs and lobbying organizations
  • Explore how these programs respond to consumer demands, support producers and are funded

Founder Spotlight: Peter Schott of Genesis Feed Technologies

  • Genesis Feed Technologies aims to change the conversation and consumption of feed ingredients for producers
  • The software the developed puts nutritional information in the hands of the purchasing person to make the best decisions for the feed program they are building

“We make soybeans look really good. On the more technical side, we bring nutritional value out for feed ingredients and show the economics of that so people can make better buying decisions.”

 

Share the Ag-Love!

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting: 

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter 

AgGrad on Facebook 

AgGrad on LinkedIn 

AgGrad on Instagram 

 

Sep 9, 2020

Today’s episode is the deepest dive I’ve done to date into the world of regenerative agriculture. You’ll probably be able to hear it in my voice in the interview, but this one had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. In fact I think the conversation just gets more and more interesting the deeper we get into it. 

If you’re new to the concept of regenerative agriculture, some previous episodes in which we discuss the concepts are episodes 44, 64, 109, 135, 182, and 199

My viewpoint on regenerative agriculture since I first was introduced to the concept a few years ago is somewhere in between “cautious optimism” and maybe skepticism.

I’m certainly not skeptical about the importance of soil health. I think you’ve heard that from me a lot on this show, and certainly you have if you listen to Soil Sense, one of the other podcasts that I host. 

But some of the - what I’ll call hype associated with regenerative ag have left me asking a lot of questions. Many of those, we get into on today’s episode. Questions like: 

  • Where is the line between what is regenerative and what is not? 
  • What is really motivating regenerative farmers and ranchers to pursue these ideals? Because it’s not really what you might see in the media or from many advocates. 
  • Also we get into some scientific questions like what is technically happening when carbon is sequestered? 
  • And, once it is sequestered, how do we know it’s staying there and for how long? 

I couldn’t be more impressed with our guest we have on the show today to talk about these issues. Paige Stanley is a finishing PhD candidate at UC Berkeley, who works at the intersection of rangeland ecology and soil science. 

Born in Detroit, she grew up in rural Georgia. While as an undergraduate at a liberal arts college, she took a course on the ethics of food production, which drove her to want to talk to more farmers and ranchers and ultimately pursue a master’s in animal science. She did so at Michigan State University studying under Jason Roundtree. 

This master’s program furthered her interest in soil carbon sequestration in grazing lands; how it might reduce greenhouse gas emissions, provide ecosystem services, improving animal welfare, and improving rural livelihoods. That led her to her work today at UC Berkeley. I’m going to let her describe it to you, but first a quick definition: you’ll hear regenerative grazing called AMP grazing in this episode. That stands for adaptive multi-paddock grazing, you may have heard of it as mob grazing. Essentially this is controlled and intensive grazing that is rotated across sections or paddocks of a field. For more on that  go way back to episodes 44 or 64

Sep 2, 2020

“Quinoa is very unique. One, it is gluten free but it also contains high amounts of protein and a greater balance of essential amino acids than cereals.” - Angela Ichwan

 

This week we are exploring the emerging market of American grown quinoa. The financial, environmental and supply chain consequences of a few farmers from the San Luis Valley in Colorado that started developing this product are shared today. Paul New is a 3rd generation farmer that was initially introduced to quinoa production by a graduate student that rented some ground from his operation. Sheldon Rockey farms in Center, Colorado and joined Paul in the quinoa venture. The two have expanded from an initial 500 acres of quinoa production to 3000. And finally, Angela Ichwan, who leads the technical team of the specialty crop business unit of Ardent Mills joins us to explain the quinoa market and how Ardent Mills has contributed to its success.

 

“We were watching him grow the quinoa and it was kind of an exciting plant because it didn’t seem to use very much water, grew pretty well here in the San Luis Valley and as we learned more about the nutritional value and the versatility of it, we got pretty excited about it.... We thought it was going to be a crop of the future.” - Paul New

 

That excitement led to adding quinoa to their potato rotation. The product was “fairly easy to market” and initially the main obstacle was ironing out the production. They have now developed a new seed and adjusted their crop management system to overcome some of these challenges. The quinoa reduced the amount of inputs needed for their potato crop as there is less overlap between disease and pests. They also saw a significant reduction in water consumption needed for the quinoa crop in comparison to the common barley and alfalfa crops. 

 

“We were still working on the production and Ardent (Mills) was positioned to really be able to step in and help us with the marketing and giving us the volume so that we could go out and really work with the neighbors and the other producers in the valley.” - Paul New

 

Ardent Mills also brings expertise and support in progressive genetics and to further develop EPA labels for inputs. Quinoa saw a surge in global acceptance when it was named the grain of the year in 2013 and also with increased consumer demands due to widespread gluten-free trends. Ardent Mills had an interest in producing ancient grains and was attracted by the nutritional profile and water conservation opportunities for quinoa. This led to an exclusive relationship and successful collaboration with quinoa producers in the San Luis Valley. 

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Paul New and Sheldon Rockey, Colorado quinoa farmers
  • Discover their introduction to the “psuedograin” quinoa
  • Learn the benefits this crop has added to their operations
  • Explore the collaboration these producers have created with Ardent Mills and the advantages this has provided
  • Meet Angela Ichwan who explains how Ardent Mills is using this relationship to grow a market for American grown quinoa

 

Aug 26, 2020

Today’s episode has some really important perspective, especially for those of us who do not see the effects of persistent hunger and poverty on a daily basis. I have on the show Paul Winters, who is the Associate Vice-President of the Strategy and Knowledge Department of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). 

IFAD is part of the United Nations and is the only UN agency or international financial institution that works exclusively in rural areas. They work in around 100 countries with the aim to eradicate rural poverty and hunger through agricultural development. 

Paul is an Agricultural Economist by training and holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of California at Berkeley. 

The first half of our conversation focuses on what agricultural development looks like in practice, and Paul shares examples from several different countries. 

The second half of our conversation focuses on some of the major challenges to global food security, including the fact that global poverty was improving until about 2015. Since that time it’s actually been getting worse. We also talk about the catastrophic effects the Coronavirus pandemic and climate change can have on global food security in the future. 

For starters though, I’ll drop you into the conversation where Paul is talking about some of the challenges of trying to solve these complex problems.

Aug 19, 2020

The idea for today’s show happened as I was working on another podcast I produce for NDSU Extension Soil Health called “Soil Sense”. I was interviewing a farmer named Mark Olson about strip tillage. It was a fascinating topic, but what really piqued my interest was the way he spoke about the company behind his strip tillage equipment. He kept talking about his SoilWarrior guy that had been so helpful. I believe he said something to the effect of “I just can’t say enough good things about SoilWarrior.” 

So naturally, I wanted to learn more about this SoilWarrior company. It turns out that SoilWarrior is the product and the company is called Environmental Tillage Systems based in Minnesota. Today’s episode is about this SoilWarrior equipment, but also about strip tillage in general, and what it takes to become a farmer’s favorite company. 

Brian Ryberg, who is a farmer in Minnesota and a SoilWarrior Evangelist - one of over 500, I have since found out. And Brent Brueland, VP of Sales & Marketing at Environmental Tillage Systems - which again, is the company that makes SoilWarrior. 

If you’re new to the idea of strip-tillage, I’ll start with an oversimplified explanation: it’s a process where instead of a farmer tilling an entire field, he/she only tills a strip wide enough to plant into. That way, most of the ground is undisturbed which has benefits for erosion, compaction, trafficability, and overall soil health. However, the tilled strips provide benefits such as warming up faster in the spring and placing nutrients right in the root zone. There are many other benefits that Brian and Brent will discuss. 

Even if soil conservation doesn’t interest you - which it should - I still think this is a worthwhile episode for you to learn more about a farmer’s throught process and what it takes to be the type of company that creates evangelists. 

Aug 12, 2020

Many of you know that I am endlessly interested in water and water-related topics. Today’s episode is another installment in my exploration to better understand realistic solutions to our water problems. 

 

We have on the show Dr. Wim Bastiaanssen who is the Founder of IrriWatch. The company is very new, I think less than two years old, but it’s the culmination of decades of Wim’s research and consulting on water, irrigation, and remote sensing.

 

Now if you think irrigating a crop is just like irrigating your lawn - sort of set it and forget it - you are WAY oversimplifying. There are a lot of variables at play, such as: changing moisture availability in the root zone, changing evapotranspiration rates, changing crop needs with the type of crop and its stage of development, then taking into consideration the forecast, and how likely all of the above factors will be different in the coming days best on weather. And these are just a FEW factors. 

 

There are many companies trying to help with this complexity. Wim’s approach with IrriWatch is to use satellite remote sensing to basically let each plant signal its water availability. If that sounds far-fetched, hear him out. He’s got the data to back up his claims. 

 

Wim Bastiaanssen grew up on a farm in The Netherlands, which is the country he still calls home. Growing up 5M below sea level (the land was reclaimed by the sea), he was always around ditches, canals, and levees - which developed an interest in water and irrigation from an early age. 

 

https://www.irriwatch.com/en/

 

Aug 5, 2020

We are back with another Fulcrum Global Capital portfolio company this week. The company MicroGen Biotech has produced a microbe that can help encapsulate and precipitate heavy metals in the soil. This process results in a gradual cleaning of soil pollution and reduces the amount of heavy metal uptake by the plant which in turn will reduce the amount of heavy metals consumed by the public. MicroGen recently won the award for the agtech category at Samsung’s Extreme Tech Challenge. Founder Dr. Xuemei Germaine was also recognized as the top female founder of the year. 

 

Heavy metal toxicity in the food chain is a concern being recognized around the world. Forbes published a report from the USDA that described “95% of all baby foods consumed in the United States have heavy metal content levels that are harmful to the development of organs and brains in infants and children, et cetera.” 

 

“We are probably just a couple of years away from not potentially being able to export some of our food ag products to Europe because of that. I think the United States frankly is lagging a bit in this….Food companies are going to have to begin to demand and expect solutions to the products that are going into the foods that they are selling to the consumer.” - Dwayne Cantrell, Fulcrum Global Capital Venture Partner

 

Dr. Germaine explains how naturally occurring minerals and chronic use of fertilizers and pesticides all contribute to increased levels of heavy metals such as cadmium, arsenic and lead in soils. The crops that are grown in these areas will have increased levels of these metals which are then introduced into the food chain. This is especially a problem for individuals eating a plant based diet and children that are more susceptible to heavy metal toxicities. 

 

“It’s all about how do you block (heavy metals) to make the food safer and also at the same time improve the soil health and that will be environmentally sustainable, economically sustainable, is good for farmers, good for the government and is good for every consumer. It will impact every one of us.” - Dr. Xuemei Germaine

 

As an added benefit, reducing the heavy metal absorption by the plant will not only benefit the consumer of the plant but also the plant itself. The microbe has been shown to increase the crop yield and has been specifically selected to also serve as a natural bio-fertilizer to the crop. Increased yield and being able to charge a premium will entice farmers to use this product with little risk to their profitability. 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Dr. Xuemei Germaine the founder of MicroGen Biotech
  • Explore the risks posed by elevated heavy metal content in our food chain
  • Learn about the effects these values can have on its consumers
  • Discover what the microbe produced by MicroGen Biotech can offer to farmers by way of cleaning the soil and creating a crop with reduced levels of the harmful minerals

Share the Ag-Love! 

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting: 

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter 

AgGrad on Facebook 

AgGrad on LinkedIn 

AgGrad on Instagram 

Jul 29, 2020

What does a more distributed regionalized or even localized food system look like at scale? How can producers capture more of the value of that type of food system? What is the right type of investor to help fuel that sort of system?

Stephen Hohenrieder spent his early career in capital markets and has an agricultural background. Stephen now works for family offices. These are investment entities that invest on behalf of a single-family. In this episode, we talk about investing in regenerative agriculture, what a distributed food system looks like and how the family office investor can be a great fit for making these ambitions a reality. Stephen began by combining different food source experiences in Hawaii to support his regenerative agriculture goals through investment.

 

“The goal was to develop a perspective on each of these different areas of food and then use my background in investing to deploy capital in ways that would support a regenerative food system that I hope to be a part of.” - Stephen Hohenrieder

 

The investment profile of a family office and the amount of risk they are willing to undertake varies between each family office. His mission is to “figure out how we could steward the vision of that operation into the future and bring in aligned capital that had a very long term perspective.”

 

“As I explored this thesis for how I believe our food system is evolving and really increasingly being redefined by fragmentation after a period of consolidation and centralization, I have focused on four pillars that are really authenticity, connection, traceability and transparency.” - Stephen Hohenrieder

 

In many of Stephen’s investments he looks to not only add value to the food chain process but also the farm itself. Stephen believes people are “reconnecting with the source of their food” leading to a consumer driven cultural shift for producers. Consumers are now more interested in connecting with a set of values than a third party certification and producers are needing to communicate these inherent values to gain consumer loyalty.

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Stephen Hohenrieder, an investor supporting regenerative agriculture
  • Explore how he views the cultural shifts in the supply chain
  • Learn about where he sees the future of the agriculture industry heading

Share the Ag-Love!

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting:

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter

AgGrad on Facebook

AgGrad on LinkedIn

AgGrad on Instagram

 

 

Jul 22, 2020

What are the barriers to customer acquisition for agribusiness and agri tech companies? In10nt is a company that attempts to answer that question and bridge the gap between company and farmer. They focus on being able to create trials at the farm level to introduce a product and allow farmers to find the best fit for their operations.

Dan Poston is the Director of Agronomy for Pivot Bio. Sean Blomgren is a fourth-generation family farmer from Iowa and is the owner of Blomgren Seed. Both Dan and Sean join us to discuss the complicated process of developing, establishing, and managing an on-farm trial that will demonstrate the potential of a certain product's performance.

 

“We’re constantly thinking about how you test those products, where you test those products, and how close to the customer you get from a testing perspective…..We really want to have that footprint and that experience on a farmer field before we feel comfortable delivering to the customer.” - Dan Poston

 

Statistical analysis results in a specific number of trials in a specific size that will be needed to create confident data in regards to the product. Developing the plan is only step one. The logistics of shipping can be a very complicated process. The product needs to arrive at farmers in prime condition and be able to be maintained by them in order to develop the most valuable results. Farmers are then responsible for using the new product in an appropriate manner. A lot of thought is put into a protocol that is most “meaningful” in order to optimize for the most success. Sampling can also create variation in results and is therefore orchestrated. All of these facets have to come together to give the trial the best chance at being successful.

 

“I promise you there’ve been some great products that have gone through our farm that hasn't tested well because we didn’t build a proper test…. That should be products we’re using today but because we didn’t test them in the right way, we didn’t have the ability to understand what we should or shouldn’t do with them.” - Sean Blomgren

 

“It’s amazing how when it’s done right, the information is so valuable and how hard it is to get to that” shares Sean. “I think that is the great gap you have to get across with biological products, is just seeing them vetted out over a large enough area” shares Dan. A third party like In10nt allows companies to work with farmers to create the best planned and managed trial to find the best success. In10nts execution gives you the best opportunity for customer acquisition.

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Dan Poston a Director of Agronomy for Pivot Bio that understands the value of a farm-based trial
  • Also meet Sean Blomgren, a producer who has benefited from well-executed trials
  • Explore the difficulty in introducing these products to new producers
  • Discover how In10nt manages that process to better serve their clients

Share the Ag-Love!

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting:

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter

AgGrad on Facebook

AgGrad on LinkedIn

AgGrad on Instagram

 

Jul 15, 2020

Danette Amstein and Michael Uetz are the Principles and Co-Founders of Midan Marketing. Their focus is on being a full-service marketing firm for the meat industry. Both Danette and Michael grew up in agriculture and worked in the National Cattlemen's Beef Association prior to founding Midan Marketing.. Michael specifically worked on identifying “what is the consumer looking for and how do we be responsive to their needs.” They joined forces to create Midan Marketing and further pursue closing the gap between producer and consumer. 

“We are working to help our clients rise above all of the clutter that’s in the marketplace, above all the noise so that they can match their products with the consumers out there that are interested in it.” - Danette Amstein

Both Danette and Michael credit a lot of their success to having created and curated a good team of people. The team of Midan Marketing is made up of not only marketing specialists but also a staff that are actively farming and therefore better able to relate to their clients.The indicators they focus on is to “hire humble, hungry and smart.” This has developed into the best system they have found to support the culture they want to foster within the company. 

“Our hiring process is long. It isn’t a one and done interview. It’s multiple interviews with multiple people…..so we’re investing heavily in a team member before they’re able to be productive.” - Danette Amstein

They encourage their clients to find their niche and specialization in order to target a specific segment of consumers to grow trust and lead to loyalty. Midan Marketing acknowledges the dynamic evolution of the consumers and their buying habits. They have performed and evaluated studies to go beyond basic metrics for a consumer in order to better identify the best way to communicate and connect with them. 

“We not only look at them from a demographics perspective, but we ask them about their attitudes, their perceptions, their behaviors and ultimately what drives them to purchase.” - Michael Uetz

In the time of Covid-19, their models and strategies have had to be adjusted to better facilitate communication with consumers in an uncertain environment.They have observed “almost chaos with (the) consumer base” leading to changes in behavior and buying habits. They encourage producers at any point in the food supply chain to pay attention to consumer research.

“We all have to pay attention to the consumer and their crazy whims as they have them because that’s ultimately where the paycheck comes from.” Danette Amstein

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Midan Marketing Co-Founders Danette Amstein and Michael Uetz
  • Explore the value of understanding consumer buying products at every level of meat production
  • Learn about the impact Covid-19 has had on the agriculture marketing industry

Founder Spotlight: Jordan Phasey of Phinite

  • Phinite prevents water pollution and provides another revenue source for farmers in the place of persistent expense regarding manure management
  • Currently, most farmers spend money to manage their manure disposal, especially on hog farms due to long drying processes and an ever increasing supply
  • Through a natural process generated by the creation of a controlled wetland, the manure is dried and converted into a marketable concentrated fertilizer

“We’ve been able to reduce the cost of drying pig manure by more than 90%. Operation of the system is simple. The farmer pumps waste out of the lagoon and into the wetland. The wetland itself has no moving parts and instead plants in the system grow their roots out through the material and dry it out naturally…..the final material is suitable for marketing directly as fertilizer”

Share the Ag-Love! 

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting: 

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter 

AgGrad on Facebook 

AgGrad on LinkedIn 

AgGrad on Instagram 



Jul 8, 2020

The Story of CoverCress isn’t just as straightforward as bringing a new crop to the market. Their ambitions also represent a new feed, a new cover crop, genetic engineering, a low carbon intensity feedstock and a new revenue source for farmers among others. Fulcrum Global Capital saw the potential in CoverCress and return to the show this week to share the excitement surrounding this company. If you missed episode 208 where we first introduced Fulcrum Global be sure to go listen to it. The CoverCress new crop will not compete with current midwestern crops and should provide farmers with a new marketable product.

 

“They’re going to create this new revenue source for the midwestern farmer. It’s going to go in on the corn soy rotation and you’re going to get the traditional cover crop benefits of which there are numerous but you’re going to get increased profitability.” - John Peryam, Venture Partner and General Counsel for Fulcrum Global

 

Fulcrum Managing Partner, Duane Cantrell, shares that this new product will “change the economic dynamic” for the farmer. “There are multiple pathways of product lines there” including oil for cooking and bio-based fuels and a seed crop that can be used as a high protein meal for feed additives.

 

“We have built this business off of I’ll call it the chassis of the native plant, pennycress. But because we have used genome editing to improve the quality, both with oil and the meal, it's a little different crop when we’re done. That's what we call CoverCress. - Jerry Steiner, CEO of CoverCress

 

CoverCress has the advantage of having a better grain than the agronomy and quality of its pennycress counterpart. The CoverCress “business plan is based on having really a partnership on both ends. One end with the farmer and another end with the end user” according to Jerry Steiner. CoverCress will provide the seed to the farmer creating a low barrier to entry in planting the crop. The company will then gain its revenue when the final grain product is delivered and also when it is processed into oil.

 

Jerry Steiner highlights the fact that CoverCress is taking a plant that is currently considered a weed and is converting it into a profitable crop with added cover crop benefits. CoverCress is considered a product of gene editing using natural occurring genes which in the United States differentiates this crop from GMOs. CoverCress is still in the research phase. The company is really “focused on getting a product that is well-tested before” it is released. This includes a well-tested process for the farmer and process for creating the end product.They expect to have their first commercial planting in the fall of 2021.

 

“We’re trying to use land the farmer already owns or operates, just use it at the time of year when they’re not trying to use it. And we want to have the farmer use equipment, whether its planting or harvesting, that they already have. We want to partner with people who already have existing grain handling and crushing assets for other oils seeds…..so it's kind of taking existing assets and just getting more out of them.” - Jerry Steiner, CEO of CoverCress

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Learn about CoverCress, a new crop being developed to create a new revenue source for midwestern farmers
  • Discover the research and benefit to using CoverCress without it competing with any existing crops
  • Meet Jerry Steiner, CEO of CoverCress, and hear about the unique opportunity CoverCress can offer farmers using existing equipment and available planting times

Share the Ag-Love!

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting:

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter

AgGrad on Facebook

AgGrad on LinkedIn

AgGrad on Instagram

 

 

 

 

 

Jul 1, 2020

In recent months societies magnifying glass has been held over the existence of systemic racial inequality. It shouldn’t be surprising then, that that conversation can easily be carried on into the agriculture industry. Bryana Clover advocates for racial equality in the workplace as a consultant to companies. Bryana is biracial and through her experiences in agribusiness has found an “intense passion for creating brave spaces to have tough conversations around race in the workplace.”

 

“I truly believe that our future depends on us bringing that lens into our diversity inclusion initiatives and really better understanding what we can do as organizations to create inclusive environments for black people and people of color.” - Bryana Clover

 

Bryana helps identify what systemic racism may look like in both agribusiness and agriculture production. She highlights the lack of diversity at the CEO level in the vast majority of companies. She offers these tips towards addressing what an individual can do to combat racism and microaggressions in their workplace:

 

  1. Education

Education involves understanding and identifying the dynamics of racial inequality in current events. “There is a structural dynamic that’s going on that impacts every aspect of our life. And I think that understanding that is the first step.”

 

  1. Introspection

Reflecting on “racial identity and how that impacts you personally and then how that impacts the spaces that you're in” allows you to identify how you fit in the corporate culture and how that environment may be contributing to a lack of equality.

 

  1. Action

Call attention to your discoveries and observations. Be an advocate for someone who might be disenfranchised. Training at a corporate level can “facilitate conversations around this.” Bryana also suggests contributing to organizations that are supporting and promoting racial equality.

 

On a more corporate level, Bryana calls companies to put real effort and work behind the many statements that have been issued supporting racial equality. Financially supporting organizations that have the expertise and focus in creating racial equality is a great first step. Committing time and money to making sure the workplace is a safe and supported environment for all employees is needed. “This is a journey, not a destination.” Bryana has created six modules for executives and a tool kit for employees for more internal change within a business culture. Bryana’s consultancy provides assessments, plans, tools and follow up to allow companies to follow through with their commitments and initiatives.

 

“We cannot afford as individuals or as a society to do nothing anymore.…..Activism looks different for all of us. Just do the next right thing.” - Bryana Clover

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Bryana Clover, a consultant with ties to agribusiness who now addresses racial inequality in the workplace
  • Discover tips to identify how we are all apart of a cultural climate that is calling for change
  • Learn about different resources available to help your efforts.

Contact Bryana Clover on LinkedIn and visit her website to learn more about racial equality progress in agribusiness.

Share the Ag-Love!

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

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Jun 24, 2020

We do a lot of agtech episodes on this podcast, but I don’t think we’ve had one quite like this. Today’s episode is primarily focused on the area of agtech that includes site-specific agronomic tools that you’d hear referred to as variable-rate or under the umbrella of precision agriculture.

 

“The agtech industry in general looks pretty glamorous, but it’s a tough, tough business.”

 

My guest is Cory Willness, the President of CropPro Consulting, which is an agronomy consulting services firm in Western Canada, based in Naicam, Saskatchewan. Started in 2003, the company has grown to 30 employees. Along the way, Cory and his team started to develop digital tools to help them be more successful in their agronomy work. Eventually they started a separate business to offer these tools to others. That business is called Croptomistic Technology.

 

“The field never changes. The field is always the same. So when we go out to soil test, there is no crop on the field. What we’re sticking the probe into is soil. So where is the map of soil? A satellite image or yield map does not give you a map of soil. It just gives you a map of variability and you don’t know what that’s due to.”

 

Cory and I talk about the rise of the tech-enabled independent agronomist, how he decided to develop these tools and ultimately market them as a separate business, and some of his frustrations with agtech, which I think many of you will find both unconventional and enlightening.

 

 

Before we dive in though, it might help to define a couple of these technologies for context:

  • SWAT stands for Soil, Water, and Topography, and a SWAT map combines multiple layers of field data into a single map for zone management and variable-rate fertilizer and seed applications.
  • Cory created a SWAT Box, which is a box that is mounted to an ATV, truck, or piece of ag equipment and driven over the field to collect electrical conductivity and elevation data, which are necessary layers for SWAT Maps.
  • Lastly Cory is one of the founding partners of CropRecords, which is a crop consulting system for crop scouting, record keeping, making recommendations and jobs, and synchronizing all of the information between agronomy staff and farm staff. It is an essential part of implementing the SWAT Maps system.

 

“Farmers are smart people. They know their fields. They know what their problems are in any given season. They see them all the time because they’re out there all the time. If you go out there to the farm and say ‘I’ve got a specific solution that’s going to solve this problem on your farm’. They’ll try it.”

 

Cory represents to me, someone who has spent his career working directly with agronomists and farmers, who knows their needs and pain points, and who has strong opinions rooted in firsthand experience. You’ll hear some opinions and perspectives on this episode that may challenge your own when it comes to agtech, especially as it relates to precision agronomy.

 

You can find out more about CropPro and his various offerings at www.CropPro.ca. Also, he’s a great follow on Twitter @CropProCory.

 

Share the Ag-Love!

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

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Jun 17, 2020

“In a lot of ways ag’s desire to be united is the thing that divides it the most.” - Sarah Mock

 

Sarah Mock has built her career around having difficult discussions and chasing the realities of agriculture. She is committed to not being an enemy or a cheerleader of agriculture creating a more balanced, real reporting style. In a world of fake news, her journalistic integrity is most welcomed. In an attempt to not isolate any particular views, mainstream agriculture media has historically chosen to offer very little divisive content. Unfortunately for some, that has led to an overall apathy towards having difficult conversations and being willing to go out on a limb.

 

“I hear people talk about the need to walk down the middle of the road. But walking down the middle of the road means never saying anything critical about the industry. That’s like the code word in ag media a lot of the time and it's a pushback I’ve gotten from editors before.” - Sarah Mock

 

Rural journalists, while present, tend to be more rare and deal with agriculture on a national basis. As a freelance journalist, Sarah has been able to explore stories that interest her and that she feels needs to be told including more philosophical based questions to more localized topics. With no interest in avoiding difficult conversations, she strives to open up a platform for honest discussion. She remarks that there seems to be a focus on “positivity” in traditional agriculture narratives that can be detrimental to the wellbeing of those in the industry.

 

“You’re creating a misconception for people that it’s normal to be happy and positive all the time and that’s how you should want to feel. And it isn’t always the case.” - Sarah Mock

 

Sarah has given herself a personal pursuit of exploring the possibility of agriculture without exploitation. The use of “exploitation” encompasses time, money, consumers. resources, the environment and the farmers themselves. She doesn’t have an answer to that question but is determined to discover as much as possible towards formulating one. Sarah shares that “we should know the answer to that question” regardless of its outcome in order to better inform our choices. She reflects on what she has observed in agriculture media and the future it might hold.

 

“Ag got this idea in our collective brain 10 years ago that our real problem is that consumers don’t understand about agriculture and….if we could just explain to people what was happening then we wouldn’t have any problems anymore which seems like a fundamental misread of the whole situation at this point.” - Sarah Mock

 

The agriculture industry has attempted to bridge the gap between the producer and consumer by providing explanations for practices rather than addressing the specific concerns the public might have. She promotes engaging people by being open to questions and criticism alike. Sarah predicts that the future of agriculture media will be “individuals that have interesting compelling personalities and perspectives that can go straight to their audience themselves.”

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Sarah Mock, a rural journalist not afraid to take on difficult topics
  • Sarah reflects on her experiences within ag media and the shortfalls she sees occurring
  • Explore the future of ag media and marketing

Founder Spotlight: Tyler McGee of Shepherd Farming

Shepherd is a digital labor platform designed specifically for farms and agriculture operations. It allows growers to quickly see what work needs to be done on their farms for that day and to send and receive tasks from other users.”

  • Shepherd Farming aims at making farm labor and farm management more efficient by
  • Through research trials and the Ag Launch Accelerator Program their team has fine tuned what farmer’s need to best optimize their labor forces
  • They are now integrating weather data into their task lists to better schedule what needs to be done and when

Share the Ag-Love!

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

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Jun 10, 2020

Pristine Gourmet was formed in 2005 with the vision of supplying the food industry with quality local non-GMO artisan foods. Jason Persall owns Pristine Gourmet in Waterford, Ontario. He converted his 1000 acre strictly traditional commodity soybean farm to support the three pillars of Pristine Gourmet; heritage, passion and craftsmanship. They produce fresh and unique cooking oils for retail, restaurants and bulk ingredients. The major obstacle faced by Pristine Gourmet was finding shelf space in the supermarkets and somehow making their product stand out. Jason quickly understood that was going to be a perpetual obstacle and so chose to pursue a different strategy. Jason shares that he invested slowly and allowed his business “to grow organically.”

 

“That was kind of just the beginning of where we are now. Just starting out with chefs and realizing that that is really our focus of where our brand is going to be widely accepted. Chefs just love new products, something that’s local to them, something that has a story, that’s direct from the farm.” - Jason Persall

 

Chefs and their teams take tours of his farm and engage in the process of developing their products. The bulk ingredient supply side of their business has helped support them during the Covid Pandemic while restaurant need is reduced. They also sell their cooking oils online through their website. Their retail products include cold pressed sunflower and canola oils similar to extra virgin olive oils. The process they use allows for better taste, higher antioxidant levels and an all round better quality product. For food service clients they can also prepare hybrid fryer oils. Each oil has a different purpose in mind. The canola oil is touted as the “queen of oils” with a “very impactful” nice flavor. The soybean oil has a more mild flavor when compared to the canola oil but with additional nutty flavors. It also has the added benefit of an impressive viscosity at room temperature which lends itself to being an excellent garnish. The final oil is a sunflower oil with a light, fresh sunflower taste and has the widest range of use in the kitchen. They also produce a pumpkin seed oil typically used to enhance different flavors.

 

“That’s kind of the reason why we do the oils that we do is because they’re drastically different from each other and their applications are different….It’s really geared towards the chef.” - Jason Persall

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Jason Perall, owner of Pristine Gourmet
  • Learn about how Jason moved his commodity based farm towards artisan cooking oil production
  • Explore what makes Pristine Gourmet unique and loved by local chefs

Visit PristineGourmet.com to order your cooking oil direct from the farm!

 

Share the Ag-Love!

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

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Jun 3, 2020

Fulcrum Global Capital is a venture capital firm focused on global food production. Traditional row crop agriculture, production animal health and agriculture technology are the main interests of their investment thesis. They often find themselves investing in early stage companies that are “not only early stage in terms of a company’s life cycle, but early in terms of where the technology falls in the value chain of the food production.”

 

When they initially heard the pitch by P&P Optica Founder Olga Pawluczyk they were impressed. 16 months later they made their investment. P&P Optica addresses “challenges such as the $4 billion annual loss that takes place in the food processing space around foreign material detection.”

 

“Where we see the long term vision of this company (P&P Optica), is really becoming a data company. The more units a customer will have, call it a Tyson or a Maple Leaf (for example). The more that they have, the more DATA we are able to provide them to make decisions.” - Kevin Lockett, Fulcrum Global Capital

 

This results in catching foreign material at a “much higher rate and at a much smaller size.” The origin of P&P Optica was not in food processing but rather in lens development for detection of different particles in the oil industry. When the oil industry suffered, an opportunity presented to identify fat content in meat. This opened the door to using their detection technology in food production.

 

“If you look at what are the important aspects of food production; you want safety, you want quality and you want to produce exactly what you need to produce.” - Olga Pawluczyk, P&P Optica

“The estimated costs of a single recall is about $10 million on average” in product loss and is commonly compounded by brand damage. Plants will process “hundreds of thousands of pounds” of meat per day so inspecting each piece of meat for safety and quality can be difficult to do thoroughly at that pace.

“So if we can take a step back and look at it with technology that sees chemical composition and can see the gradation of the cells, how all the cells are, how much water there is, what type of protein, and what type of fat; that information can translate into the quality and therefore can sort every single piece on the line.” - Olga Pawluczyk, P&P Optica

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Fulcrum Global Capital as they share their philosophy and some of the companies they have been able to invest in
  • Meet Olga Pawluczyk of https://ppo.ca/about-ppo/P&P Optica and learn about the innovations her company is creating and the impact it will have on food production

Share the Ag-Love!

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting:

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May 27, 2020

Playing with puppies and kittens most of the day and selflessly saving any and all helpless animals in between are the common perception of being a veterinarian that many people pictured as a child. James Herriot painted a beloved picture of adventure and fun that many fell in love with. I’d be remiss to admit that occasionally this does describe the job but unfortunately, the more common reality faced by veterinarians is a lot less rosy. 

 

Dr. Judson Vasconcelos is the head of the Veterinary and Consumer Affairs Team at Merck Animal Health. Merck has committed to performing a study in US veterinarians every few years “to monitor wellbeing and mental health of US veterinarians.” Having practiced as a veterinarian for years in Brazil, Dr. Vasconcelos can not only share the most recent study that illustrates the struggle many veterinarians are facing but also relates to them through his own experiences.

 

“We want to have a good idea of what’s going on with veterinarians based on the trends that we’ve seen in the past. We want to have a good understanding of wellbeing and where they are from a mental health standpoint. We want to benchmark some of (that) data with some of the findings from other scientists...” - Dr. Judson Vasconcelos

 

Through a partnership with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), they were able to analyze 3000 answers from a survey sent out to practicing veterinarians in the United States. This comprehensive survey illustrated many different concerns, however, the team was able to identify three main concerns affecting the veterinary profession today and have labeled them the “Three S’s.”

 

 

  • Stress
  • Student Debt
  • Suicide Rate

 

 

These three main issues all contribute to a multifactorial result of reduced quality of life and low job satisfaction for veterinary professionals. Factors like a poor work-life balance and high expectations of customers magnify the gravity and significance of the Three S’s. Surprisingly to most, “52% of the veterinarians do not recommend the profession.” Reasons such as debt, low salary, stress, and difficult clients are all cited as causes for this finding. Veterinarians are 2.7 times more likely to attempt suicide, a number which is significantly higher than their human medicine counterparts. However, identifying these concerns is only useful if something is done to ease the burden they present.

May 20, 2020

Blockchain. A word that has been overhyped and yet still becoming more realized every day. Bridie Ohlsson joins us and is the Founder of Geora, a protocol for blockchain applications in agriculture. Bridie’s career with blockchain began with AgriDigital when the world was discovering and getting excited about the potential applications of blockchain. Bridie shares what the goals of any blockchain company were at that time.

 

“So you needed to be kind of an open and fairly non-competitive technology to encourage people to come in and experiment and work together and integrate their systems and share data.” - Bridie Ohlsson

 

Where AgriDigital provided access to blockchain for producers, Geora was formed to build on that and provide the next step. Geora’s protocol has isolated what data needs to be retained on blockchain and what data while significant to have for logistical reasons does not need to be tied to the product on blockchain. Bridie describes Geora as an “infrastructure” where they “work out where there’s a valuable data point.”

 

“We’re really trying to build tools, digital tools, that are really useful for ag so there is adoption...” - Bridie Ohlsson

 

Bridie expects that these “data rich assets” will lead to financial gain for producers. At the moment her company is trying “to get a really solid base of digital record keeping systems.” She admits that blockchain is not necessary to acquire that data but if the goal is to monetize that data then blockchain will be needed, so the technology is being employed now. This will ultimately provide another avenue for people or companies to invest in agriculture with real time access to the farmer’s data and all to the farmer’s benefit. The farmer will have absolute control over their data and how and when it is shared. This focus on agriculture amplifies the impact the protocol can have for its participants.

 

“If we can get participants who work in similar spaces, they’re going to generate value for each other quicker, which is a good test of the network effect and the network value.” Bridie Ohlsson.

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Bridie Ohlsson, founder of Geora, a blockchain protocol company
  • Explore the next steps being taken in blockchain and what they may mean for the industry
  • Learn about some of the financial implications of blockchain  

 

Share the Ag-Love!

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

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May 13, 2020

We are going back to the farm today. Zach Johnson, the YouTuber Minnesota Millennial Farmer and Mitchell Hora, farmer and founder of Continuum Ag, join us today. These two co-host the Fieldwork Podcast, “a podcast for farmers, from farmers.” Fieldwork Podcast focuses on sustainable farming practices, their environmental impact and how to make them profitable. For Mitchell, Continuum Ag specifically supplies health data analytics and does consulting for farmers. Mitchell and Zach farm 500 miles apart but find common ground in adopting soil health principles and are enjoying the opportunity to share that with other farmers.

 

“I think everybody has the opportunity to improve. I think it’s just more so looking outside of the box and looking holistically, but there’s a lot of ways to do this.” - Mitchell Hora

 

Mitchell draws attention to the fact that being more sustainable can involve different applications of soil health protocols on different operations. This isn’t a call for “one size fits all” in farming. He highlights impacting the carbon footprint in agriculture, water quality, water use, and nutrient density to name a few options to focus on.The Fieldwork Podcast’s goal is to “utilize some of these other agronomic sustainable type principles to be more profitable.” Mitchell is very clear that any changes need to “drive profitability” and be a sound “business decision.” Zach discusses that one barrier to fully adopting all of these soil health practices rapidly on his farm has been the amount of moisture and weather conditions in Minnesota. His dad attempted some no-till in the 1980’s but didn’t find success at that time.

 

“I think now we understand more about the soil. We have better technology, maybe better machinery to try to understand really what it is we’re doing and try to achieve those results.” - Zach Johnson

 

Zach is excited to start trying some new soil health practices including cover crops but admittedly hasn’t found the opportunity yet. Both Zach and Mitchell discuss how difficult it can be to initiate new practices and wait for the results to become evident. This is why ultimately every decision they make is backed by increasing profitability and making their farm as successful as it can be both for the environment and for themselves.

 

“(Fieldwork Podcast) is a great educational tool for farmers and for non-farmers to learn and to support each other and to realize and understand that it isn’t so easy and we’re all trying to figure this out to make sure that we move forward progressively.” - Zach Johnson

 

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Mitchell Hora, farmer and co-founder of https://continuum.ag Continuum Ag
  • Meet Zach Johnson, the Minnesota Millennial Farmer
  • Learn about their podcast Fieldwork Podcast in which they explore improving soil health practices with the bottom line in mind
  • Hear about Zach’s experiences with Youtube notoriety and the impact it is having on his audience

Founder Spotlight: Luke Silinski

  • Founder of Agtech Steam
  • Luke’s mission is to help other rural kids get interested in coding and provide them with resources so that they can develop their skills in a practical way
  • Specific content is sent that would appeal to young learners and their interests
  • Luke encourages anyone who wants to learn to code to take it slow, find a game or program you are interested in and explore.

Share the Ag-Love!

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

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May 6, 2020

Kellee James joins us today to discuss what it takes to build a platform as co-founder and CEO of Mercaris, a market information service and online trading platform for identity preserved agricultural commodities.

 

“We’re a market data and information service. We are also an online trading platform but we have chosen to focus on a specific part of the ag supply chain, and that is identity preserved ag commodities.” - Kellee James

 

Mercaris provides price discovery while allowing customers a procurement tool within a very specific field in agriculture through trades and auctions. Only 15% of their revenue is derived from trading fees. Most of their revenue comes from the sale of data. There is very limited tracking in imports and exports with these specific commodities so creating a data marketplace creates real advantage for their customers as well as a way to connect with vendors who may be interested in their products.

 

“You’ve got to establish yourself as the marketplace. So getting out ahead of others that are trying to do the same thing, I think is important.” - Kellee James

 

Kellee didn’t grow up on a farm. Her family is originally from New York but she fell in love with agriculture and pursued that industry in college. She found an opportunity when she learned that farmers could sell credits based on environmentally friendly practices.

 

“I was hooked. It was a way to provide real dollars in the pockets of producers who were undertaking something that had an environmental benefit. I liked the appeal of using a market mechanism to put a price and a value on something that we all need in society.” - Kellee James

 

Kellee highlights that the goal in these marketplaces is not to spend the most money to reduce emissions. The measure of success is to create an environment of supply and demand so that the “market finds the lowest cost reductions.” But how do we get so many different sectors on board and what incentivizes them to carry through with their promises?

 

“It’s a tough problem for humanity because it does require collective action and last time I looked, collective action is still best accomplished by the federal government.” - Kellee James

 

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Kellee James, CEO and co-founder of Mercaris
  • Explore what the Mercaris platform looks like and what it means for its customers
  • Learn about the structure behind commodity markets and what it takes to create one

Share the Ag-Love!

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

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Apr 29, 2020

What affect will animal genomics have on the future of agriculture? Dr Jesse Hoff from Gencove joins us today to explain the advantages assessing livestock genomics can offer. Gencove performs genetic sequencing providing half of the animal’s genome. This allows for an avenue to assess the genetic potential of any animal for a breeding program in a rapid, efficient, affordable fashion.

 

“What we’re trying to capture is what we call the genetic value or sometimes the breeding value of that bull. And that really describes very purely, the genetic component of who they are.” - Dr. Jesse Hoff

 

Dr. Hoff explains that the genetic value encompasses their “genetic contributions on average to their offspring.” In the dairy industry you might focus on milk production or in beef cattle, the marbling, but neither of those things can be assessed in a bull without evaluating the production or carcass of their offspring.

 

“Using that genetic data really takes quite a bit of risk out of the process of buying a bull or using new semen from a new AI stud or retaining heifers in our population. So we don’t need surprises of open animals. We don’t need surprises of animals that don’t perform well.” Dr. Jesse Hoff

 

Studying the animal's genomics can answer that question as soon as the bull is born, saving time in selection and feeding. It is rare to find any elite bulls that haven’t had some genotyping technology used on them. Previous genomic processes assess 10-50,000 positions in a genome. Gencove’s sequencing technology provides 10’s of millions of sites.

 

“We’ve been able to get a great running start in animal genetics and breeding by defining these marker panels and helping us understand an elite and a core population in a well-defined way.” - Dr Jesse Hoff

 

As more datasets accumulate with more testing Dr. Hoff sees the potential to continue to identify “unique sets of genetic locations that are influencing those phenotypes that matter to you.” All of this will add detail to the picture of genetic potential Gencove can provide livestock producers.

 

As an aside, Dr. Hoff mentioned his opinion on a different cutting edge field in agriculture. Being raised as a beef rancher and working as a scientist with a PhD, Dr. Hoff has very unique insight into lab grown meats. He comments that “there’s a lot of incredibly sophisticated biological things” that contribute to animal protein that are unlikely to be replicated in a lab. He also sees many ways that animal protein processes can be enhanced, promoted and made to be more efficient that can open opportunities to that industry. Lab grown meat may not have the same versatility. Dr. Hoff also gives us an update on genetic modifying and editing in livestock animals and the potential it allows.

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Meet Dr. Jesse Hoff, Agrigenomics business development manager at Gencove
  • Explore the advantage genomics can give livestock operations
  • Hear about Dr. Hoff’s perspective on other new and up and coming technologies in agriculture

Check out Heifer International and Helping Hands to see how you can get involved!

Share the Ag-Love!

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

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Apr 22, 2020

What does food security mean? We hear about it frequently but this complex category involves much more than just assessing our agricultural capabilities. The main pillars of food security involve food affordability, food availability, food quality, food safety, and natural resource and resilience. One tool for evaluating where companies and governments land is provided in the Food Security Index Report performed by the Economist Intelligence Unit and sponsored by Corteva. Dana Bolden joins us today from Corteva where he acts as the Global Corporate Communications Leader. He shares the motivation behind creating the Food Security Index Report and the impact it could have.

 

“We really wanted to put into the mainstream discussions about food security.” - Dana Bolden

 

Over the years there has been a shift of interest in these annual reports. You now find local governments taking positions on the data and working to increase their rating. Dana shares his optimism about how the data will influence global food protocol. Getting the governments to take ownership and discuss their efforts towards food security, food sourcing and feeding populations is “a conversation that we want to have.” Corteva’s perception of food sustainability is “trying to create a profitable business model in a sustainable way….using fewer inputs to get more yield and profitability while continuing to be responsible stewards in the environment.”

 

 

“This is why we do things like the Food Security Index. To show governments that the traditional ways do not need to be the ways of the future. There’s technology that’s out there that can help agriculture become more effective with less impact on the environment and we need you to embrace it. We need the industry to embrace it.” - Dana Bolden

 

To further highlight these efforts, Corteva also sponsors the Climate Positive Challenge. This program provides $500,000 to growers that can demonstrate that they have scalable sustainable practices. Corteva does not consider themselves exempt from following sustainable practices either. They went public in June and are actively collecting a year's worth of data that they will share in order to hold themselves accountable and also plan for the future.

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Learn about the Food Security Index Report
  • Meet Dana Bolden, Global Corporate Communications Leader at Corteva
  • Explore what Food Security means to Corteva and the actions they are taking to promote it
  • Learn about the effects the Index Report has had at both local and global levels.

Read The 2019 Report!

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Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

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Apr 20, 2020

Make sure you listen to FOA 201 with Matthew Pryor. This is some bonus content from that episode where Tim asks Matthew about water issues, policy, and innovation. 

 

Connect with Matthew Pryor

Share the Ag-Love!

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! And be sure to join the new Future of Agriculture Membership for even more valuable information on the future of ag.

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting:

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter

AgGrad on Facebook

AgGrad on LinkedIn

AgGrad on Instagram

 

 

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