The future of auditing

Hay just might be the future of farming

Alfalfa's formula for success: Science, technology and time


In an era of cell phones, same day grocery delivery và air travel, it’s no wonder we’ve sầu grown accustomed to lớn instant gratification. Well, most of us.

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Stephen Temple, Director of Biotechnology at Forage Genetics International (FGI), is patient when it comes to seeing his work bear fruit. With an eye to lớn the future, his outlook isn’t focused just on the next quarter or even next year, but rather the next 10 or 15 years. That’s how long it can take a scientist khổng lồ have his or her work thoroughly tested và approved by regulators và out in the market. This long-term vision is what drew Stephen lớn a career in science & giải pháp công nghệ -- & what drew him khổng lồ a career in agriculture at Lvà O’Lakes, Inc.

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Choose your own adventure

Stephen will never forget the day when one of his mentors at the Rothamsted Retìm kiếm Station in the United Kingdom (UK) showed hlặng around the retìm kiếm facility -- they were studying how agrobacteria was able to lớn transfer DNA lớn plant cells. “I was exposed to the cutting edge of công nghệ in plant sciences. I could see the possibility & how it could impact agriculture -- I wanted khổng lồ be a part of it,” says Stephen.

After completing his PhD, serving as a retìm kiếm fellow, working for Los Alamos national lab and New Mexico State University for 7 years, Stephen subsequently found himself running an alfalfa retìm kiếm lab at the University of Minnesota. It’s here where he was noticed by an up-and-coming company focused on the future of agriculture: Forage Genetics International (FGI), a subsidiary of L& O’Lakes, Inc. In 1999, Stephen went to lớn West Salem, Wisconsin lớn join the FGI team. At the time, it was a risky move. Plant biogiải pháp công nghệ was still in its early days & didn’t have sầu a road map, but Stephen knew that this meant he could bởi vì something significant. “Farming is a tough business. I knew the science I was passionate for could help farmers tackle some big challenges,” says Stephen.

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Alfalfa

Pause for a moment to think about some iconic images of a farming community. Cows, corn fields, a tractor --and haystacks. Often, those haystacks are made up of dried alfalfa, a perennial crop plant high in protein. The protein makes it an important ingredient in livestoông xã feed -- particularly for dairy cows. Decades ago, alfalfa growers had no choice but to use conventional breeding techniques to build those haystacks.

But, decades of research và development done by the West Salem team have brought two game changing commercial products to the market for alfalfa growers:

Digestibility & flexibility: Lignin is a critical part of a plant cell’s genetic makeup -- helping make plants sturdy. However, it can also limit a cow’s ability lớn digest alfalfa, which can reduce the feeding unique needed for milk production. HarvXtra® alfalfa, a forage biogiải pháp công nghệ developed by a small team at West Salem, along with partnerships with USDA & The Noble Foundation, reduces the amount of lignin in the alfalfa plant while maintaining the plant’s structure & agronomic characteristics. High-quality forage can provides the opportunity for greater profit potential or increased forage utilization by the animal. Those benefits can make a huge difference in a farmer’s income. What’s more, HarvXtra alfalfa gives farmers flexibility lớn delay harvest if needed. “Before, when heavy rains came it would put the harvest at risk,” says Stephen. “HarvXtra alfalfa builds in flexibility of timing. Farmers don’t typically take vacations, but with HarvXtra alfalfa they could.”

So, thanks to modern ag technologies -- not to lớn mention the blood, sweat and tears of some talented scientists -- FGI has helped revolutionize alfalfa production. And now, the FGI team is taking HarvXtra alfalfa khổng lồ international markets. Farmers in Canada & Argentimãng cầu are (or will be soon) using the product to compete in their local markets. Stephen: We’ve sầu changed the industry, but we aren’t stopping there.

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Lvà O’Lakes thành viên owners regularly visit the facility lớn learn about FGI’s portfolio of products. “These are smart business people running multimillion dollar operations. Their success doesn’t happen by chance --it’s our purpose to lớn help them progress,” says Stephen.

And, the learning goes both ways. Stephen listens to the issues they are facing. Their visits keep the West Salem team close to their primary customer: the farmers. This grounds the team’s day-to-day work in that critical long-term vision of advancing the forage industry. Stephen is particularly excited about two innovations on the long-term pipeline:

The power of the flower:When purple pops, it’s time lớn harvest. “If we can delay the timing of when alfalfa flowers, a grower will see significant increases in biomass, which can lead khổng lồ increased yields on less land.” Though a commercial sản phẩm may not hit the market for a decade or more, this kind of innovative sầu công nghệ is needed on a planet trying to feed more with less.

More protein on the scene: When cows digest alfalfa, a portion of the protein benefit is lost during digestion. “If you feed legumes containing condensed tannins khổng lồ cows, you see an increase in protein efficiency --the tannins bind to lớn the protein to lớn increase protein use efficiency.” Knowing this has got scientists like Stephen searching for ways to engineer alfalfa plants khổng lồ produce condensed tannins.

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A united enterprise

Though FGI is a part of WinField United, Land O’Lakes’ crop inputs, insights and giải pháp công nghệ business, Stephen’s work crosses all of L& O’Lakes, Inc.’s diversified business areas. “Our primary customers are dairy producers, which include dairy members of the L& O’Lakes system,” says Stephen. “Their milk gets processed inlớn Land O’Lakes dairy foods products, lượt thích the butter and cheese.” On the other side, FGI’s work in alfalfa also directly connects with Purimãng cầu, the animal nutrition business. Stephen regularly consults with animal nutritionists lớn understvà how alfalfa can be optimally used lớn support a healthy animal diet.

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The strength of this farm-to-fork enterprise Model, rooted in cooperative values và a purpose of Feeding Human Progress™, is what gives Stephen the daily space và tư vấn lớn bring growers the innovation of tomorrow. After all, Feeding Human Progress doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, hard work, và a whole lot of science and giải pháp công nghệ.