Even though the beef business has been on the rocks because of studies claiming that reducing red meat consumption would help to prevent global climate change, beef isn’t going anywhere. As many people from different regions of the world demand to eat meat, improvements and technology advancements are being done to produce beef sustainably.
High-tech farming and sustainability are linked. Farmers and producers that use sensors to gather data and robots to milk are growing in number.
The director of the Southwest Regional Dairy Center at Tarleton University in Texas, Barbara Jones, said that precision technology helps prevent diseases and making on-farm decisions. Contrary to popular belief, technology does not disconnect the farmer from the animal, but can actually strengthen this tie. Cows are known to hide symptoms of their diseases, but technology can indicate that something might be wrong in a cow or calf before it show clinical signs, but of course, an expert would also be needed to confirm the illness, said Brad Heins, an animal sciences researcher at University of Minnesota.
Farms like Land O’Lakes developed a program for wheat and other crops using technology. Farmers Business Network made a website for farmers to share information and tips among other farmers in the community. Programs like ‘FitsBits for cows’ contain cow health and milk, and business information but having an analytical platform that would put all of those together would be more of a help, said Jones.
Dane Kuper started Performance Livestock Analytics (PLA), a cloud-based platform to help beef producers learn about nutrition and animal health. PLA provides feeds recipe as well as buy-and-sell lessons, which helps in decision-making that other platforms don’t have, said Kuper. She also said large-scale farms have a better edge rather than smaller ones because they have a larger animal population, which means a larger data to make decisions. Meanwhile, smaller farms have to connect to other farmers or hire consultants to get a better sense of practice, and that is where PLA is trying to come in to help. PLA gives the farmer recommendations on where they are thriving and where they are having a hard time for improvement.
Technology has come a long way in improving farming techniques and procedures. It helped farmers in taking care healthier livestock and producing high quality products. With proper technology, and good management, sustainable farming would not be so hard.