Blockchain aiming to make products accountable
ROCK HALL, Md. — Trey Hill’s workers arrive at his grain farm, open a smartphone app, pull up their work orders and know what fields they are seeding, spraying and fertilizing and how much of each that they are applying.
Their day’s plans are made with the help of satellite imagery that indicate the health of fields, the different types of soils in each and their moisture levels and water holding capacities.
Hill, to achieve this precision agriculture and ensure the economic viability that accompanies it, utilizes several software programs, including Granular, AgLeader and Encirca.
“If I’m growing more environmentally responsibly, it’s providing an added value to the consumer,” Hill said.
The grower hopes next to share his agricultural practices with poultry -producing customers such as Tyson Foods through a technology known as Blockchain.
Tyson is currently piloting Blockchain to track its food throughout the production stream.
The company is also working with Whole Foods to test traceability.
Blockchain helps ensure that products live up to what they say they are and allows for foodborne illnesses to be more easily traced.
The technology can also help farmers such as Hill cement their responsible farming reputations in the eyes of American consumers.
A Pew Research Center study released this month noted that the American public is closely divided over the degree of health risk posed by foods produced with common agricultural and processing practices, including meat from animals provided hormones or antibiotics, produce grown with pesticides and foods that contain artificial ingredients. A growing share of the public – around half as compared with 2016 and 2017 — said it believes that foods with genetically modified ingredients are less healthy to eat than those without.
As software programs such as Farm Soft progress in offering scanning products that track products from the farm to the packinghouse, supermarket customers will be able to scan bar codes and see a photograph of the farmer who produced the product, according to Tyson Foods.
“We value the farmers who raise our chickens and work hard to maintain good relationships with them, but we also know we can do better,” Tyson Foods Poultry Group President Doug Ramsey said in a prepared statement.
“It’s good for customers to know as much as possible about where their food comes from,” Virginia Poultry Federation President Hobey Baughan said. “We have seen that with turkeys.”
Tyson has currently posted a website, Grow with Tyson, that provides information about feed and brooding, housing, lighting and ventilating.
The company has established an advisory council of growers and plans to include information from the website on a mobile app that it is developing for them and their colleagues.
Through a smartphone, the company intends to access real-time information about animal welfare, transportation and warehouses that managers formerly maintained on paper.
Tyson, as it explores drones to monitor animal safety and health and robotic technology is nearing completion on an Arkansas hub for robotics.
The company through advanced analytics is also researching ways to help predict consumer demand in order to ensure more accurate forecasting.
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