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F³ Tech Symposium – Fall 2017

Viewing Agriculture Through the Lens of Innovation and Technology

Thursday, November 2, 2017
9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Eastern Shore Higher Education Center – Room HEC110
Chesapeake College – Wye Mills, MD 21679
ATTENDANCE IS FREE –  includes lunch

A tool for engaging industry into the innovation ecosystem of F³ Tech are quarterly symposiums.  These one-day events plan to include a broad outreach among entrepreneurs, innovators, farmers, watermen, environmentalists, industry, investors, service providers, government agencies, and academic and research institutions.  The purpose is to advance awareness and an open dialogue with stakeholders about agriculture, aquaculture, and environmental technologies, to foster partnerships and relationships, and to create a shared understanding of what the market and industry needs and explore opportunities for creating value and impact from the F³ Tech sector and become an ongoing tool for sustaining and growing the industry-led incubation ecosystem.

Symposiums will be held quarterly, rotating among the Eastern Shore, Southern Maryland, Western Maryland, and the Baltimore/DC corridor.

Tentative Agenda

Speakers, Panelists, and Table Topic Experts are populated in the Agenda as they are confirmed

9:30 a.m.

Registration and Continental Breakfast

10:00 a.m.

Welcome and Opening Remarks

10:15 a.m.

Orientation on F³ Tech Initiative

10:45 a.m.

Session 1: Tracking and Tracing - Consumer interest in where food comes from and how it is handled has been one of the most talked about narratives of the past few years. With food production transparency and safety top of mind, agriculture must continue to listen and respond to this consumer-driven message. For example, FoodLogIQ is a platform designed to connect data across many points in the food production process so that both farmers and processors can track the growth and movement of grain from seed to the point it is sold.
Speakers: Jaheon Koo - Institute of Food Technologists, Washington, DC

11:45 a.m.

Lunch and Table Top Discussions

Acceleration in Technology - Data analysis in the years ahead will supplement what farmers know intuitively and in some cases challenge those assumptions. New products rely on aerial satellite imagery, greenness sensors, soil maps and millions of weather data points. The question of data ownership will be a subject of growing debate. It is also possible for machines to learn to solve problems in agriculture by using artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Big Data - Big data is still a buzzword – and rightly so – but the challenge right now is figuring out how to get this data to work for a farmer at the local level. Converting data to actionable solutions is what needs to happen to make all this technology worth the investment. Without solutions, just viewing data is pretty much worthless. This process takes a tremendous amount of time, filled with frustrations, trial and error. But when data becomes actionable, it becomes very powerful and worth the effort.

Biologicals - Many of the major chemical companies are focusing their attention on using biological organisms to battle weeds, insects and diseases. How these products control pests will be vastly different than what we are used to using for chemical control, and will require a different mindset.

Augmented Reality - Augmented reality is no longer being used simply to make video games more appealing. These emerging technologies are being adopted across a number of fields such as medicine, professional athletics, and increasingly, agriculture. It is the idea of Google Glasses, with real-time data or information being overlaid into your visual frame of view. There is research being done in Augmented Reality by superimposing computer-generated 3D images on tractor navigation screens to provide more data and build a complete picture of the field beyond what is physically being seen. It will be interesting to watch what other applications of Augmented Reality emerge to help farmers make real-time decisions in the coming years.
Subject Matter Expert: Will Gee - Balti Virtual, Baltimore, MD

Soil Health - Scientists and agronomists keep digging deeper into the natural potential of soil. Over the past few years, the biological market has taken off, as the soil and plant health-boosting potential of naturally-occurring soil microbes was realized. In-field testing has become the norm for many farmers who want the full picture of microbial activity in their fields. Improving soil health is just one aspect of improving overall soil quality. The NRCS lists activities that have been shown to benefit soil across the state. The first activity is adopting no-till practices, which has shown significant minimization of soil erosion both caused by wind and water, while also improving organic matter. Also, to operations that have the capabilities, cover crops provide additional soil benefits such as prevention against erosion, increased organic matter, and minimizing soil compaction. We anticipate these and other soil restoration practices to become even more utilized in the coming year.
Subject Matter Expert: Nevin Dawson - University of Maryland Extension, Denton, MD

Strategic Decisions and Exploring Alternatives - While today's farmers have more technology available today than ever before that offers hands-off management, they must in fact be very hands-on when it comes to strategically planning for the short-term and long-term future of the farm. A few years ago when prices were high, deeply analyzing and crunching the numbers may have been of less importance. In the down ag economy, careful analysis of inputs must be a standard practice. In addition to strategically managing expenses, many farms are also exploring new niche markets and building strategic buyer relationships. Each crop is grown for a reason and for an end-product, and that a farmer will be successful by producing quality grain that meets the needs of that end goal and gets into the hands of buyers who pay accordingly for it.
Subject Matter Expert: Shannon Dill - University of Maryland Extension, Easton, MD

Higher Protein Content - Protein is in high-demand as the global population grows. Also, those in the areas of the world that are growing quickest are improving their diets and requiring greater protein. Biotechnology applications continue to evolve in order to meet this protein demand. For example, an article from the Rice Research Station at Louisiana State University Agriculture Center describes four different approaches that manipulate seed protein bodies to provide the proper balance of essential amino acids most cereal grains do not contain naturally.

1:00 p.m.

Session 2: Meat Consumption Shift - U.S. meat consumption declined 7.8% from 2007-13. Meanwhile, China has been the world’s top meat consumer since 1992. By 2012, China’s consumption more than doubled that of the U.S. By 2022, China’s red meat and poultry consumption is projected to rise 15.2%. The U.S. likely will ship more pork and fewer feed grains to the country. That’s because it is more cost-effective and efficient for China to import finished goods, a factor reflected in the Shuanghui International acquisition of Smithfield Foods. Regardless, U.S. grains and oilseeds will be needed by meat producers, as total world red meat and poultry demand is set to rise 15.1% from 2013-25.
Panelists: Tony Corbo - Food & Water Watch, Washington, DC

2:00 p.m.

Break

2:15 p.m.

Session 3: Biotechnology Strategy Evolves - GMOs are here to stay but face political and public relations hurdles. In states such as Vermont, where labels are required, implementation is expensive. Yet some GMO advocates back a federal labeling solution that would halt state efforts. GMO technology is able to accomplish great things, but many people worry that GMOs will have bad effects on environmental and human health. Should industry work to change public opinion?
Panelists: Jennifer Schmidt, MS, RD - Schmidt Farms Inc and Foodie Farmer Blog, Sudlersville, MD

3:15 p.m.

Closing Remarks and Attendance Reward Raffle - Prize: RippleBuds – World’s 1st In-Ear Microphone w/ Bluetooth Earset, $179 value, all attendees are entered, must be present to win.

3:30 p.m.

Adjournment

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