In addition to propelling the industry forward, innovation in agriculture produces a myriad of benefits for producers and consumers (and everyone in between).
We spoke with one of last year’s Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence about some of these invaluable benefits, shining the light on just some of the things innovation can achieve for the agri-food industry.
The Trillium Lamb Producers group, based out of Lindsay, Ontario, was awarded for the development of a unique data centre that thoroughly tracks information on animal health, nutrition management, carcass weight, quality and more. The technology helps to improve flock genetics and optimize lamb nutrition, supporting informed production and management decisions on the farm, which ultimately provides consumers with a high quality, consistent product.
The Trillium network has grown to 18 members since it first began, with gross sales of more than $1.5 million in 2015, and has created a model for lamb producers across the country.
We connected with Trillium Lamb to talk about their award-winning innovation, and what it means on the farm and for the consumer. Below is what Trillium Lamb Inc. had to say on a few important topics we explored:
Tell us why you implemented a data centre to track information–what’s unique about your methods?
It all starts with traceability. With food safety being so important, being able to trace product back from the grocery store, through the processors, and to the farm, is critical in determining where any problem that may arise came from and how it might be fixed. It was this that led us to create our data centre to track this information between the abattoir and the farm.
As far as I know we are the only group in the sheep industry with this level of data exchange between both producers and the abattoirs.
How have these innovations helped you care for your animals, and the consumer?
Thanks to Growing Forward 2 and the Agricultural Adaptation Council, we (Trillium Lamb Inc. and Newmarket Meat Packers) received funding to set up this traceability system to help us to track individual animals from our farms as they go through the abattoir. This is when things started happening. As soon as you can track an animal, suddenly it is that much easier to attach data to the animal. So we did! This data is then brought back to the farm and used to find any weak spots and (hopefully!) patch the hole.
For example, some observations have led to a Trillium Lamb group Lung Project. We are working with both provincial and private veterinarians to try and determine on farm causes of condemned lungs. This will hopefully lead to some innovations in both building design and management practices, and have a lasting impact on the industry as a whole.
This data also lets us track seasonal differences in production, and quality that helps us determine both individual animal health, and production benchmarks within our producer group. We can then use these benchmarks to evaluate our operations and provide peer to peer support within our group, continuing to push our industry forward. The seasonal data tracking, paired with production forecasting, allows us to better manage our flocks, and project our lamb availability throughout the year, providing a more consistent supply year-round. This is a huge step forward in an industry that is mostly seasonal.
What’s the importance of innovation in agriculture?
In agriculture, we are always looking to do a better job tomorrow of what we do today. Innovation is how we get there. With the population on the rise, agriculture and food production need to rise to keep pace. Trillium Lamb is just trying to do our part in helping to making this happen.
Thank you to Trillium Lamb Inc. for taking the time to chat with us about the importance of innovation in agriculture. Be sure to learn more on the Trillium Lamb website.