Problem Solving in Food Production
Tackling today’s – and tomorrow’s – global food sector challenges.
1| How has your experience as a rancher helped shape your development as an ag tech leader and entrepreneur?
My experience growing up on a cattle feedlot and ranch taught me how to work hard and fight through any conditions to meet success and keep my integrity. In the entrepreneurial world, it is tempting to take shortcuts or sacrifice quality for speed, but that doesn’t work for agriculture, and my roots have kept me grounded in this and in solving the problems our industry faces. I keep involved in our family businesses and industry activities to know my customers, feel their pain, and work directly with them to solve larger and longer-term problems. As a young person, it’s hard to call me a leader, but I try and serve wherever I can and help others coming into the industry to be successful in ways I cannot be.
2| What problems will tech help the ag industry solve over the next decade?
I think we will see technology solving many issues in the next few years; the timeline for adoption is getting shorter every day. I know in the livestock industry, those technologies will be around solving issues of traceability, labor shortages, regulatory control, and efficiency. A lot of these will be helped by the automation of processes and data collection. Meanwhile, genetics and gut biome tech will help with efficiency and maybe lighten the load on regulatory pressures. I see HerdDogg in a unique position to help automate data collection from live animals to allow greater insight into every action of animals to better research, automate traceability, and enhance efficiency through predictive health algorithms.
3| You co-founded AgVision International. How has working on global food sector issues changed or reaffirmed your perspective on some of the main challenges to the industry?
We all face the same challenges globally. Africa is seen as a frontier market, and having lived and built large farms there, it certainly feels like a frontier, but we face the same pressures of regulation, sustainability, soil health, lack of skilled labor, and traceability of both inputs and outputs. I have seen considerable challenges in the Chinese and Brazilian markets and am constantly visiting with producers about what they see in their areas. The issues may have different levels of importance, but they are the same. I do think that some of the more regulatory-sensitive parts of our industry may get moved to developing markets in years to come, but infrastructure and processes will have to be laid out before that can be done at any reasonable scale. Food security will be a driving issue in the years to come. We will likely see more food-insecure people in the next 20 years than in the last century. My generation, and the next, need to rise to the challenges of feeding a hungry world with fewer resources than we have ever had; this is what gets me up in the morning and why I push so hard in all my endeavors.
Photo credit: istockphoto.com/Atelier Mush
Meet the Leader
Andrew Uden is CEO of HerdDogg, a data-driven livestock management company.