Smart farming for the future

Smart farming for the future

Author: Ad Bal

The worldwide demand for safe and good quality food will keep growing. Particularly the demand for protein from animal origin is permanently on the rise. Natural resources are limited, however. Time for a new way of thinking. Martin Scholten of Wageningen University in The Netherlands, strongly recommends a circular way of smart farming. Minimizing food waste and using food and crop residues in feed production. With full focus on healthy animals.  

“Efficiency and output in animal production have improved tremendously over the past decades”, says Martin Scholten. “We have created ‘super animals’.  However, this could only happen thanks to the availability of a ‘super breed’, fed with ‘super feed’.  Thus, high energy and protein rich diets were and are still fed to animals, mainly prepared from imported grains and pulses in the large crop production areas of the world. 

As a result, nowadays in modern faming, a dairy cow for example, is only using its small intestine for digestion, rather than pre-processing roughage through the rumen first. However, we must realize that the availability of this super feed will become more and more scarce in the coming  years, The natural resources to produce ‘super feed’ are depleted, and the impact on the carbon footprint is too large. In this context, it is also of extreme importance to preserve the remaining tropical rain forest and not let this further be sacrificed for the benefit of crop farming.” 

A solution to solving that problem, according to Scholten, is using a wider range of circular resources, such as food crop residues. For example, potato peels and sugar beet leaves. In the early days, these were fed already to animals such as pigs and ruminants. But since animals were bred for super productivity and super feed became available, this came to an end. Also, due to the harvesting season, these byproducts are available only during a limited period of time. And the feed safety regulations limited the reuse of such agricultural biomass. According to Scholten, this can be solved by processing and extrude these and other fresh products into dried forage and pellets with a much longer preservability.  

Reusing wasted food
“A second important...

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