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Technology can increase efficiencies in agriculture

Technology is disrupting agriculture, according to Robert Walker, CEO of Keenan, a farming solutions company in Ireland. Walker spoke Tuesday at ONE 17, The Alltech Ideas Conference, in Lexington, Kentucky.

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Technology is disrupting agriculture, according to Robert Walker, CEO of Keenan, a farming solutions company in Ireland. Walker spoke Tuesday at ONE 17, The Alltech Ideas Conference, in Lexington, Kentucky.

Walker started working at Keenan a little over one year ago, after Alltech acquired the company. He said Keenan is a pioneer in the “internet of things” – connecting people and things with data.

For example, one Keenan technology product, InTouch, is a device that manages the feed mixing sequence, controls quantity of ingredients loaded, monitors mixing speed and time, and advises the farmer.

In his year at Keenan, Walker said he has learned three main things about technology and agriculture:

  1. Technology will disrupt your business model.
  2. Digital technology can massively improve on-farm performance.
  3. We are in the midst of an agricultural revolution.

Technology

Walker said adding new technology means your business must evolve.

“You can’t tack on technology and continue with the same business model,” he said.

At Keenan, machinery, technology and nutrition combine to deliver better feed efficiency in livestock.

Performance

Walker said farmer error averages 3.56 percent, which doesn’t seem like a lot, but it adds up to $12,000 per year in waste and loss. Using data and technology can improve production efficiency 10-15 percent, plus savings in fuel and machinery wear and tear. That’s an increase in 200 grams per head per day more in beef, or a 16 percent increase in milk production in dairy cows.

Revolution

Walker said there is a lot of opportunity right to invest in agriculture and agriculture startups. And, he said, many companies that are investing in agriculture are coming from outside the industry, signaling interest and opportunity in agriculture and food production.

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