DULUTH, Ga. — Animal welfare is the focus for new products and new technologies for AGCO’s grain and protein business unit.
“We are focusing on smart, connected, autonomous, and robotic products to help our farmers drive their profitability,” said Stefan Caspari, AGCO Grain & Protein senior vice president and general manager.
AGCO Grain & Protein includes five brands — GSI and Cimbria for grain equipment; and AP, Cumberland and Tecno for protein.
“We have developed our brand portfolio in a much more focused way so the brands are not overlapping and we’re targeting key customer segments,” said Caspari during a virtual meeting.
“A key element of our growth is the focus on precision livestock management,” he said. “Last year we did an acquisition of Faromatics. That is based in Spain and has developed a smart robot to help customers better operate their farms, provide a better environment for the animals and drive productivity.”
Faromatics, Caspari said, has a really exciting product for poultry operations.
“We just launched Scout, the world’s first ceiling suspended robot system that continuously monitors broiler chickens,” he said. “It has lots of sensors to monitor the entire environment to help farmers address labor challenges and improve the health and welfare of the animals.”
Scout is attached to a rail on the ceiling of the barn and gathers data with cameras and temperature measurers.
“The data is used to generate reports for farmers to make better decisions,” Caspari said. “It will optimize the entire business real time to go from a visual, experienced-based system by the farmer to in-depth analysis.”
There is an opportunity ahead, Caspari said, with the growing population that requires more and different foods in a way that’s sustainable for the environment and farms.
“That’s the heart of what we do,” he said.
AGCO Grain & Protein is focused on its customers, Caspari said.
“We want to create an environment for our customers so they experience exceptional support and product warranty,” he said. “That is the foundation for everything we do.”
In addition, AGCO has set customer connected distribution as another priority for the company.
“We want to serve farmers in a way that they chose us as their partner,” Caspari said. “That starts with how we educate about products and topics they are concerned about down to the product sale and service.”
This is supported with sustainability efforts, Caspari said, from advancing soil health to animal welfare in food production.
“We need to understand customer problems and to do that we’ve set up partnerships with nutrition companies and other equipment manufacturers to drive research and build knowledge to understand environment, animal and human behavior,” he said. “We are partnering with universities to provide an environment where we can test new farming practices.”
Last year, AGCO Protein & Grain established an animal welfare panel that includes experts from around the world. The group, which includes swine, poultry and egg representatives, will meet two to three times a year.
“The panel includes producers to university partners to retail and it’s really exciting to include all these backgrounds on the topic of animal welfare,” Caspari said.
“We’re developing a roadmap to accelerate the support of animal welfare,” he said. “The plan is to bring people together at customer sites to see what is required to support the industry.”
AGCO has university partners in many parts of the world.
“For our research and development program we put our projects with universities,” Caspari said.
“At the University of Georgia poultry research center we are constructing two buildings for testing and improving the environment for the birds to simulate a large operation,” he said.