SAI Platform Annual Event 2023
On 27-29 June, the food and beverage industry came together for the SAI Platform Annual Event in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. This exclusive member- and invitation-only event gathered sustainability experts, thought leaders, academics and progressive farmers who are working to drive the transition towards a more sustainable food system.
In the setting of Minnesota’s abundant farmland and rich agricultural heritage this three-day event showcased and examined how farmers are implementing regenerative and sustainable agriculture practices while at the same time building productive, profitable, and resilient farms.
Day one started in the field, as over 100 delegates visited the innovative research, field trials and sustainable farming operations that Minnesota has to offer.
First stop was the WinField® United Answer Plot® where delegates had the opportunity to see cutting-edge field trials, including the soil health benefits of reduced till and no-till practices and how using data and technology can optimise nutrient efficiency and sustainability. The WinField® United Innovation Center, a state-of-the-art facility dedicated to pioneering agronomic research and product development introduced delegates to innovative products and technologies that empower farmers to maximise their yields sustainably.
The Gar-Lin Dairy, Eyota, Minnesota and the Highland Family Farms, Mapleton, Minnesota enraptured members and guests with an authentic insight into regenerative agriculture in practice. In Eyota, Gary and Linda Allen, innovative dairy farmers, shared how progressive agriculture practices have shaped their dairy and crop operations. They highlighted sustainability, technology, and innovation as key focus areas.
Over in Mapleton, Pat and Kristin Duncanson, shared their approach to balancing economic, environmental, and community returns. Participants explored how nutrient efficiency is enhanced through the utilisation of swine manure and strip tilling. The Duncanson family shared how these regenerative practices have improved soil health without sacrificing yields and commercially benefited their operation.
Thank you to TomRyan, CEO, Truterra Cheryl Isberner, Erica McDougall, Jennifer Wells from Land O’Lakes as well as Ashley McKeon and Anna Teeter from Cargill, for making this day happen.
Key takeaways from the field
- Field visits are fundamental to exploring, learning and talking to the farmers, agronomists and pioneers who are implementing regenerative and sustainable practices.
- Failure is an important tool and change requires significant courage.
- Farmers face multiple challenges when it comes to changing to regenerative and sustainable agriculture practices.
- The importance of nurturing long-term collaborative partnerships and the significant influencing factors of farmer support networks and how they can create the right environment for change.
Day two resumed at the Loews Hotel in Minneapolis, for an interactive and informative day of keynote speakers, panellists, and break out sessions.
Peter Byck, Director and Producer of Roots So Deep, set the tone with a captivating keynote to present his findings and conclusions from a scientific study on adaptive multi-padding grazing.
Other highlights from the day conference included a panel discussion of progressive farmers giving their insight about the science and economics that inform their decision making. Delegates also heard from subject matter experts including Chief Operating Officer of Continuum Ag, Brad McDonald speaking on financing the transition to regenerative agriculture and the Forever Green Project headed by Dr Nicholas Jordan, Professor at the University of Minnesota, and their work in creating sustainable market-driven approaches to soil health through the perennial crop Kernza.
Key discussion insights
- The focus towards transition and change must place financial opportunities and success first – this is not about good versus bad practices.
- The need to support farmers to understand that soil health is essential to the financial resilience of the farm.
- Trusted advisors can impact greater acreage and a higher willingness to consider new practices.
- Ultimately, farmers want to be able to pass on a thriving, healthy farms to the younger generations within their families and communities.
All presentations from the three-day event are now available for download on My SAI Platform.
The SAI Platform Executive Committee and Secretariat would like to thank all our esteemed speakers, panelists, and attendees for making this event a resounding success. Your passion and dedication to regenerative agriculture are truly inspiring.
We also give a special thanks to host and event facilitator, Sasha Twining, who made the event the success that it was.
A very big thank you also goes to Platinum sponsors, Nestlé and Unilever, Gold sponsors PepsiCo and Dairy Farmers of America and Silver sponsors, Cargill and Land O’Lakes for their support and contribution to the organisation of this event.
SAI Platform looks forward to future events and continued collaboration with members and partners to drive positive change in the agribusiness industry.