Bionutrient Food Association: https://bionutrient.org/
Bionutrient Institute: https://www.bionutrientinstitute.org/
Bionutrient meter: https://bionutrient.org/bionutrientmeter
Over the past few years, the term “nutrient density” has been popping up more and more. There are a lot of claims being made about farming practices like regenerative agriculture producing more nutritious food or more nutrient dense food. But is this true? I mean, if you increase the amount of one nutrient are you really making it more nutrient dense or are you maybe just doing so at the expense of other nutrients? And if there are more of any given nutrient in a product, does that make it necessarily healthier?
The truth is we don’t really know. There is no agreed upon standard for nutrient density. And many people and companies are not letting that stop them latching onto the term and running with it for their own marketing purposes. You’ve heard evidence of that right here on previous episodes of this show. Also, without collecting a large amount of data on the various compounds in agricultural products, we can’t really even say if it matters.
Our guest today is making progress in defining nutrient density with data and has created an open-source consumer-priced handheld bionutrient meter that can provide a real time percentile of nutrient compound levels in eight different crops so far. He has a vision of someday using nutrient density as an important data point to optimize our food system in a variety of ways. But first we need the data to define what the nutrient profile should look like in each crop and the instrumentation to test this in every level of the food system, which he’ll be the first to admit that we still have a long way to go toward that end.
We have on the show Dan Kittredge. Dan is the Founder and Executive Director of the Bionutrient Food Association. Dan was an organic farmer for more than 30 years and founded the Bionutrient Food Association or BFA with the mission of increasing quality in the food supply. Dan’s perspective is healthier food comes from healthier plants which come from healthier environments. So, if we can develop a reliable and accessible measurement of healthy food, we can use that as a critical metric for a better food system.
Dan’s vision is really interesting: once we have clear definitions and the instrumentation to give everyone access to the data, it creates a feedback loop that can optimize our food system for true quality. Dan believes this can nullify the need for a lot of labels about how a food is grown because what will matter is the data - both on quality and environmental impact. He’s going to share the effects this could have on farming practices, genetics, health and consumer choice. Some of this may stretch your thinking here a little bit and you may find yourself wanting to see the evidence. That’s ok - and the story here is what Dan and the BFA are doing to search for the data to inform this very interesting thesis.
In order to make sure this was a pre-competitive effort, Dan and the team have made their device open source. Dan says it’s a very early version of what we will need in the future, but it has allowed them to initially start collecting data with consumers at grocery stores and farmers markets and grow into working with 150 farmers as they did last year. Dan starts our conversation off with an overview of the Bionutrient Food Association.
John Silvera on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-silvera-02b838175/
Today’s episode is another installment in that series, and it’s a really cool story of how John Silvera, an Independent Crop Consultant in the central valley of California, is using one tool in particular, AgWorld, to offer much more to growers than just agronomic recommendations.
In this episode we’ll talk about the return on investment of farmers hiring independent crop consultants, why John decided to start using AgWorld, and how he estimates he can save an average sized grower around $100,000 per year through his integrated budgeting, agronomic advising, and input purchasing service. We’ll also get into how he’s thinking about the future of agriculture and his crop consulting business.
Today’s show was produced in partnership with AgWorld.
Founded in 2009 with an Australian headquarters in Perth, AgWorld is a global leader in collaborative farm management, enabling farmers, advisors and third parties to work together as one on a single platform. AgWorld’s standardized database makes it quick and easy to create accurate, reportable farm data and serves over 100 million acres across five counties. AgWorld also made headlines recently by announcing it was getting acquired by Semios, and John and I talk about that a little bit in this episode. Learn more about AgWorld at www.AgWorld.com.
The son of a long time farm manager, John Silvera has a degree in Ag Business from Fresno State University. From there he spent about four years working for a large inputs provider before starting his own company in 2016. What I find most striking about John’s story is how he’s leveraging technology to become much more of a trusted business advisor who integrate agronomic decisions with business decisions for his clients.
**JOIN THE FoA COMMUNITY: www.Patreon.com/agriculture.
See GUSS in action: https://gussag.com/
Almond Journey Podcast: https://www.almonds.com/almond-industry/industry-news
We have on the show today another great example of this in GUSS Automation. GUSS stands for Global Unmanned Spray System, and joining me for today’s episode is COO Gary Thompson. As the name implies, GUSS sells a fully autonomous sprayer for use in orchards and vineyards. Which is really interesting, because there is no piece of equipment that goes through these operations more than a sprayer does, so the savings and efficiencies here are compelling.
Gary is going to share their interesting story of how this technology was developed out of their traditional custom spraying business, how they’ve grown without outside capital to start selling these machines, the value and benefits of these machines for farmers and other custom sprayers, and what these capabilities means for the future of agriculture.
GUSS came up on another podcast that I host called the Almond Journey podcast. For any of you who are interested in almonds as a crop, I highly recommend subscribing to that one as well. It’s a little shorter than this one with a different feel and it’s of course focused specifically on almonds. I was talking to a grower on the podcast about his low dust harvest equipment, but he made the point of talking about how happy he was with his purchase of some GUSS sprayers.
Gary Thompson from GUSS grew up on a dairy farm in Arizona and went to Cal Poly where he met a lot of people in the central valley. It was there that he got connected with GUSS, where he now oversees all daily operations including manufacturing, sales, marketing, finances, dealers, and customer relations.
Calgren Renewable Fuels https://www.calgren.com/
Maas Energy Works: https://www.maasenergy.com/
California Milk Advisory Board: https://www.realcaliforniamilk.com/
Dairy Sustainability Award: https://www.usdairy.com/media/press-releases/2021-dairy-sustainability-awards-winners-10-year-anniversary
Today’s episode is a great story of collaboration, public-private partnership, innovation, and sustainability. Before I introduce the guests on today’s show, let me set the scene for you a little bit: a group of 15 dairies in the central valley of California are getting paid to turn their cow manure into renewable fuel. Twelve of these dairies are connected via underground pipeline that transports biogas from on-farm digesters to a centralized conditioning facility which processes and markets the fuel. So the dairies not only receive a milk check, they also receive a manure check. All the while they are drastically reducing their own emissions and replacing 3 million gallons of fossil-fuel diesel with near-zero emissions from dairy-sourced renewable compressed natural gas, or CNG.
This project is a collaboration between a lot of people, including the local dairy farmers, Calgren Dairy Fuels which is the renewable energy company, and Maas Energy Works which makes the digesters. Joining me to talk about this innovative project is Lyle Schlyer, president of Calgren Renewable Fuels, and Daryl Maas, CEO of Maas Energy Works.
I want to recognize that this project was nominated by the California Milk Advisory Board for a U.S. Dairy Sustainability Award. They won the award for their socially responsible, economically viable, and environmentally sound impacts on their community. The California Milk Advisory Board brought this incredible story to my attention and was willing to partner with me on this episode to share it with you. If you’re not familiar, they are an instrumentality of the California Department of Food and Agriculture with a vision of nourishing the world with the wholesome goodness of Real California Milk. They are very proud of the fact that dairy farm families in the state have made tremendous progress in reducing their environmental footprint while producing nutritious, planet-smart dairy products, an d becoming world leaders in sustainable farming. Thank you very much to the California Milk Advisory Board for bringing this story to my attention and for partnering with me on today’s episode.