December 15, 2022
Recently, I was invited to Tennessee Tech to address business leaders, academics, and students about positioning for the future of agriculture. With so much doom and gloom in the headlines, if one peels back the layers there are many bright spots concerning the agriculture industry.
In my address, I indicated the future of agriculture will not be one-size-fits all. Regardless of the enterprise or business model, one will be required to have a data mindset. Producers with the ability to critically analyze information and then communicate the findings to employees, managers, lenders, consumers, and society will develop a competitive edge.
For example, in the dairy industry robotics are being implemented for milking and calf feeding. There are some labor savings, but the benefits of the information about individual animals to assist in breeding, animal husbandry, identifying illnesses, and overall increasing production are critical. In the future, the data will eventually be linked from the cow to the consumer for increased transparency. In the grain industry, variable rate input application, precision planting, and yield monitoring are providing the competitive edge in an economic environment of inflation.
Producers with a data mindset will have the opportunity to promote the health and value of sustainability to consumers, who are often located in cities and over two to three generations removed from the farm. Soil and water health will be a major megatrend of this decade. If one has the data for tracking soil and water health and uses it to implement best management practices, this often leads to improved plant, animal, human, and overall environmental health. This can be a value-added proposition if crafted and marketed, which some agricultural enterprises are now discovering.
Related:It’s soil, not dirt
It was refreshing to address this group of engaged individuals at Tennessee Tech. I indicated that agricultural schools need to mesh programs with business, finance, and engineering schools. I suggested that rather than degrees in the future, a series of certificates may be the educational model of the future. I stressed that internships and work experiences for both students and adults that apply the knowledge learned is an action plan for the future.
This group was bright and engaged at 7:30 AM for one of those dreaded eight o'clock classes. This was after an evening with Dick Vitale, the famous broadcaster and cancer survivor, who presented a motivating, high-energy speech. If you ever get a chance to hear him speak, he is authentic and is the real deal! Both he and his wife were so engaging with the audience the evening before. It was truly a special event!
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