Craig M Dick

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Agricultural Uses for Blockchain

Blockchain is out of beta testing and has reached Agriculture.

A recent soybean shipment from the US to China has become “the first full agricultural commodity transaction using a Blockchain platform,” –Business Insider

If you want to stay relevant in the future you need to stay on top of the technologies that will shape it. While still in its early phase, Blockchain is a topic that you should understand some of the basics and how it’s being incorporated into agriculture.

Note: This is a basic overview for those in agriculture, I am not a Blockchain builder or expert.

“Blockchain can do to value transfer what the internet did to information sharing.” – Fobes

Block Chain aims to provide transparency and widescale trust via unalterable record keeping. This will transform supply chains of industries like precious metals to food and agriculture. It has the power to change the way we manage leasing and payment collection,  supply chain management, and quality assurance securing the provenance of goods and commodities.

decentralized network - Blockchain

Example of a decentralized network

The dream for agriculture is that the use of this technology will help commodity producers move up the value chain.

The world is moving from analog to digital and from digital to decentralized.

In the simplest terms Blockchain is a distributed/decentralized ledger that maintains transaction records on many computers simultaneously. Because of this mathematical relationship, the information in a particular block cannot be altered without changing all subsequent blocks in the chain and creating a discrepancy that other record-keepers in the network would immediately notice. In this way, blockchain technology produces a dependable ledger without requiring record-keepers to know or trust one another, which eliminates the dangers that come with data being kept in a central location by a single owner.

Most businesses keep a log of transactions within their business. You buy a product, enter it into your inventory. You sell it, you mark it off. Now imagine that when you buy a product you get a copy of all the transactions that product has ever had going back to the ingredients used to make it. When you sell that product, the ledger follows with the product. This is saved to the cloud on a decentralized computer system. Because everyone has a copy of this ledger, it makes it extremely difficult to forge a product. This process enables clarity across the supply chain and ensures quality standards are met along the way.

Blockchain company Abrosus is working on meeting these supply chain and quality standard needs.

“The state of technology today allows a bold rethinking of how the global food supply chains and markets could operate. A system of interconnected quality assurance sensors can reliably record the entire history of food, from farm to fork. Blockchain can protect the integrity and verifiability of sensor data. And smart contracts can enable automatic governance of food supply chains and manage commercial relationships between actors along those supply chains”. – Abrosus

Thier technology combines Blockchain with hardware devices (sensors and readers, cameras, container locks) to provide a platform to automate the input of data into a system and create a trusted basis of data input to meet the needs of manufacturers, consumers and government regulations.

US agriculture is a global marketplace and much of our product is exported. With our customers stretched all over the world, we need to be aware of the laws of those countries. One example is a law published in 2013 by The European Commission for the Good Distribution Practice of medicinal products for human use (GDP 2013/C 343/01). Chapter nine of this regulation requires proof that shipped medicines have not been exposed to conditions, particularly temperatures, that may compromise their quality. These regulations are now enforceable across Europe. Blockchain logs the data from monitoring systems in the pharmaceutical industry ensuring requirements for frozen vaccine storage are met such as:

  • Temperature [-25°C to -10°C],
  • Humidity [2 to 3%],
  • No direct sunlight or fluorescent light.

This ensures the viability of medicines and reduces the risk of loss of life.

Is this really needed for food? Between 1993 and 2006, the consumption of non-pasteurized cheeses caused 121 outbreaks, leading to 3,000 people falling sick, 140 hospitalizations, and more than 50 deaths. Since these outbreaks, the Swiss Federal Regulation has changed. For food products, Blockchain companies like Ambrosus can go further and define the various levels of quality for a particular product like this illustrative list of requirements for a batch of milk:

  • Temperature [4°C to 7°C]
  • Fat [3.18% to 3.22%
  • Lactose [2% to 4%].

While food safety is of utmost importance, a close second is quality. As consumer demands evolve, the term ‘quality’ has broadened to include ethical and environmental aspects. Consumers today have expanded the term quality of a food product to also include using eco-friendly procedures, good employee working conditions, and the welfare of the animals involved in the manufacturing process.

Blockchain technology gives agriculture the opportunity to provide supply chain efficiency, cost reduction, proof of positive environmental impact, improved customer service, quality assurance and regulatory compliance. These improvements are what our customers are demanding and will help ensure future profitability for farmers.

Additional Information:

 

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Agriculture

Agriculture is the art and science of sustaining lifeAgriculture

The original tech is Agriculture

Agriculture is complex; applying every scientific discipline

What you grow and how you grow it is a market and still agriculture

Agriculture’s future is ecologically restorative and life advancing

The post Agriculture first appeared on CraigMDick.com

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The Most Disruptable Sector of Agriculture

The Most Disruptable Sector of Agriculture

Disruption may be the overused word of 2016. Until there is a better word to describe something that interrupts activity, I will join the disruption band wagon and make this prediction: Humans will be the most disrupted sector of agriculture in the next decade.

Why do I predict this?     $7 corn.

With $7 corn, tech companies sprouted like weeds throughout agriculture. Farming needs this influx of ingenuity. To a large extent, farming is still an art. There is too much data to crunch all the variables. The influx of tech will better help farmers and agronomists take the guess work out (human error) of decision making through better data.

During the $7 era, there was lots of talk of improving agriculture’s’ environmental foot print. When economics are favorable and risk is low everyone is more open to new ideas. Even as farmers struggle to make a profit, their customers still want a cleaner environment.  To ensure farmer profitability (increased production) while sustaining or improving the environment will take a lot more sensors and automation.

Ag labor issues. Even at $7 corn it was difficult to find qualified candidates to do most of agriculture’s jobs. Now that we are back to more realistic prices, labor shortages abound. Trying to find workers for the most labor intensive jobs, picking crops, weeding, and operating equipment is tough. In the next decade, all these operations will be automated.

Once you remove the most expensive, least repeatable process from farming (humans), cost will drop and profits will increase.

You can expect the following jobs to disappear from ag:

  • Truck and equipment drivers
  • Field agronomists, scouts and samplers
  • Fertilizer and grain plant operators
  • Laborers, pickers, pruners, etc.

Essentially, there are 2 jobs on the farm of the future. The owner of the farm and the technician to fix the automated equipment. The rest of us may be left to complain about how food is no longer raised by humans.

 

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Three Reasons You Are an Agtivist

Three Reasons You Are an Agtivist

Yes, Agriculture needs to tell its story.

Yes, we need to feed a hungry world.

Yes, there is a lot of science that backs up conventional farming practices.

Trouble is, most  consumers do not care about any of that.

Ignoring the interests of the consumer makes you Agtivists not an AgVocate.

If you do these three things your are an Agtivist.

#1 You are part of “The Agricultural Echo Chamber”

Most Agtivist talk about agriculture from their view point and/or via sound bites from large corporate ag interests that consumers don’t trust. Consumers who “don’t get the science” are often shouted down. This further closes off the discussion, until it is only the hard core Agtivist talking to each other about how great they are. That doesn’t influence anyone.

#2 You are too “self absorbed”

Agriculture is doing great things, but so is the Automotive industry, and so are other industries. Outside of ag, I couldn’t name one of those things. Why? I am busy and so are consumers. They don’t care about what you are doing, and they are not going to care about it. Consumers don’t care about farming’s “adoption of technology,” efficiency, or production problems.  All they care about is their own interest.

#3 You are a “Data Gun Slinger”

If you whip out data factoids faster than Doc Holiday whips out his six shooter, stop. Just stop. Stop confusing people with data. More discussion of the science behind modern agriculture is not the answer. Agriculture has this backwards. For most people, decisions are made emotionally, then rationalized. When you lead with the cold, hard facts and science, you ignore the heart. Great marketers know you have to win the heart first. Food is very emotional for people, so we need to lead with emotion to win.

How do you stop being an Agtivits?

To effectively engage consumers, connect with them first. Start by by asking more questions about what is really important to them in regards to their food, rather than pushing your agenda. They need to know you get them, that you care. Once you have connected emotionally and have earned their trust, then you have earned the right to have a conversation about agriculture. Then you can AgVocate.

By ignoring the hearts of the consumers, they will grow to despise us.

 

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Agricultural Advertising is Boring

People do not pay attention to boring.Agricultural Advertising is Boring

No one ever says “what’s old.”  We crave new.

People are wired to notice the new, notice movement. It’s what has kept us alive for eons.

Most ag marketing/advertising all looks the same: a farmer in a field looking to the horizon in triumph.

We’ve seen it a thousand times. It’s lost any meaning. It’s killing your business.

And we are moving on without even noticing which company is providing higher yields.

Talking about your brand and bennies doesn’t work. No one cares.

People love to be delighted, to be surprised, to be entertained.

We hate being educated and most people don’t want to learn more.

You need to emotionally mule-kick someone in the head. They need to get excited about what you are doing.

Your company and your products have a persona. If you don’t know what it is, your customer does.

Own who you are and be very honest about what you do and who your product is for.

No, you don’t provide higher yields.

No, not everyone gets to be your customer.

To really interest the people you’re trying to reach, you need to start with a great story, add a twist to the normal and take some risks.

 

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