Starting last year, the most innovative side of international agribusiness meets at the Animal AgTech Summit. Last year in San Francisco, this September in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Here are five initiatives in the pig industry that you will hear more about.
Larger animal nutrition and health companies, like e.g. Trouw Nutrition, Cargill, Zoetis, Boehringer Ingelheim and Merck/MSD had sent representatives to talk and interactively discuss the challenges of the modern era. All in their own way, these companies have embarked on finding innovative ways to embrace new technological solutions. For instance, MSD for instance completed the acquisition of animal identification company Antelliq/Allflex earlier this year, Zoetis introduced its herd monitoring software Smartbow late last year and Boehringer Ingelheim its biosecurity tool Combat in 2018.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are also many smaller companies whose initiatives have just seen the light, whose technologies still require more investments before they will become profit-making, or whose concepts are experiencing a breakthrough right now.
Moonsyst was introduced as ‘a smart monitoring system for progressive dairy and beef farmers’. The system collects different parameters of livestock, helping farmers with real-time data to increase productivity and detect disease, stress and heat. Supported by cloud-based software with built-in machine-learning and notifications, the system enables better and earlier detection of various illnesses, enabling more efficient use of medications, improving animal welfare and prolonging animal life expectancy.
Traditionally, viruses can be prevented by using vaccines – but there are more ways to deal with viruses. ‘Anti-virals’ are known in human medicine; they are elements blocking the virus from replicating. An approach like this can be used with any virus – it’s regulatory matters and food safety concerns that makes it a lengthy process before it can hit the market. An antiviral against ASF, if allowed/necessary under emergency legislation, could be ready for use late last year, said CEO Erwin Blomsma.
The company Unibio, headquartered in London, UK, but having a strong base in Denmark, uses waste to begin something new. It converts methane into protein that can be used for animal nutrition, using a U-Loop Fermentor. Most attention so far has gone out to aquaculture, but the company also presented figures from a small-size trial in post-weaning piglets. According to slides presented, the animals did not experience any increase in diarrhoea when compared to using zinc oxide in the feed.
The Lodz, Poland-based animal health company Proteon focuses on the use of phages – or viruses that attack specific types of bacteria. This approach could be a promising alternative to antibiotics. The company already has a phage product ready against salmonella in poultry while it is waiting for the EU to give its regulatory approval for the marketing for this type of animal health strategy, COO Matthew Tebeau said. In the meantime, the company is working on more products for pigs, aqua, dairy and poultry.
Hectare Agritech, based in the UK, has already been in many media (nationally and internationally, like the BBC, CNN and Time). The company developed agri-tech platforms that are underpinned by its multi-commodity, currency and country blockchain trading API which links into farming software and databases to provide real-time insight into the supply chain. Through its brands ‘SellMyLivestock’, ‘Graindex’, ‘FarmPay’ and ‘HectData’, it provides independent insights to drive better decisions.