The Regen Ranching Data Round Up

Continuing our work to advance data interoperability in agriculture, Farm Foundation, The Mixing Bowl and Purdue OATS, with other collaborators, will host the Regen Ranching Data Round Up on August 24, 2021, at 5 p.m. Central.

The purpose of the Round Up is to gather ranchers who practice adaptive planned grazing, related data solution providers and other critical ecosystem partners (land owners, customers, scientists, financiers) to link the information flows necessary to scale adaptive planned grazing as a regenerative agriculture practice.

Technology and data to scale adaptive planned grazing

Adaptive planned grazing is a scientifically proven, USDA-backed climate-smart agriculture practice that can decrease soil erosion, build soil health, stimulate photosynthesis, promote biodiversity, and sequester carbon. Better data in the hands of ranchers and their ecosystem partners can help to address many of the barriers to scaling adaptive planned grazing.

Additional layers of data can provide better levels of insights regarding observed changes resulting from practice implementation, better comprehension of the business case, and lead to alignment of practice outcomes and marketplace demand.

Ranchers today lack access to critical locale- and practice-specific knowledge to optimize performance of adaptive planned grazing in their operations. Much of the information exchange regarding best practices is done through in-person or online rancher-to-rancher groups. An abundance of case studies from across the world exist but, to date, there is a dearth of information to inform a rancher on the specific actions he or she should take on their soil type, their vegetation, in their climate, with their livestock type to achieve their desired outcomes.

How can we improve the amount, quality and usability of data to make practical operational recommendations for ranchers? How can we use information to de-risk operations transitioning to adaptive planned grazing, accelerate the collective learning curve of adaptive planned graziers, and realize the potential of adaptive planned grazing at scale?

Better information exchange can also inform the economics of a regenerative ranching enterprise and meet information needs of ecosystem partners (customers, bankers, land lessors, insurers and certifiers). There are a number of organizations that offer solutions to collect data from pasture operations. Some are in-field (soil and other sensors), some are lab-based (soil testing), and some are remote (i.e., drone and satellite aerial sensing).

There are also a number of organizations that offer solutions with the potential to connect data from pasture operations with other data. These might include animal health or herd management software solutions; farm/ranch management software solutions (FMS); measurement, estimation, reporting and verification solutions (MRV); external certification or scientific data-gathering tools.

We seek to connect these organizations and their solutions so they work together in an interoperable fashion across the value chain, amongst producer ecosystems and across geographies to accelerate the adoption of these practices, optimize implementation, and maximize the market for regenerative beef.

The Regen Ranching Data Round Up and follow-up events are intended to further the application of data to scaling adaptive planned grazing.

Goal: map supply chain and identify data gaps

This “Data Round Up” event will gather stakeholders from across the value chain to jointly identify actions, actors, and data exchanges that occur, or need to occur—from soil to supper, ranch to ribeye—and in doing so, identify data solutions, data gaps, and data interoperability gaps.

The outcome of this event will be a supply chain map and identified data challenges that can be tackled as a next step to help ranchers and their ecosystem partners achieve success. The map can be shared publicly to benefit anyone interested in solving a data challenge related to regenerative beef. A byproduct of the ensuing discussions and publication of the map will also be insights garnered on non-data issues related to scaling adaptive planned grazing that emerge during event storming discussion.

Farm Foundation, completed a similar “event storming” activity for the pork industry in conjunction with The Mixing Bowl, the Purdue Open Ag Technology Systems (OATS) Center, the National Pork Board and other partners in the fall of 2020. The collaborative mapping exercise helped identify the topic that was the focus of the subsequent event—a “hackathon” to develop and build code for a real world, open source solution to fill a needed data gap. At this event, held March 24-26, 2021, teams collaborated to build an open source, digital “advance ship notification” to connect data between pork farmers, haulers and pork processors. Additional pork industry problem-solving hackathons are being planned for 2021.

What’s next: build data connections and interoperable open-source solutions

Following the Round Up, our goal is to host another event to develop solutions to identify data problems in regenerative ranching through a “hackathon,” similar to the process we used in the pork industry. The goal of this hackathon’s participants is not to win prize money, get PR, or create competition between teams but to work collaboratively to find ways to collect and connect ranching data, calibrate data between solution providers, connect existing solution providers’ data, and hack the development of open source solutions where nothing exists today. More information about the hackathon event will be shared as it develops.

Want to join us for the Regen Ranching Round Up?

Participants from the regenerative ranching space, including ranchers, land owners, and others throughout the value chain are invited to join the Regen Ranching Data Round Up as either active participants, who will be involved in the actual “event storming” to map the supply chain, or as spectators, who can observe the discussion. Register to participate here.

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