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August Monthly Special 2023

‘Renaissance Ag serves as a foundational production partner for livestock producers around the world’: Caleb Wilkins, CEO/Co-Founder, Renaissance Ag

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Renaissance Ag will expand the partnership between crop and livestock producers and those who are engaged in promoting sustainable agriculture practices.”

Farmers are at the mercy of nature’s whims, with insects, viruses, and extreme weather wreaking havoc on farm operations. It's a fight to feed the future when the predicted global population is expected to rise to 9.9 billion people by 2050, which will demand a 70% increase in food production. Natural resources are being depleted, we are running out of land, and we need to increase productivity. Even though the situation is dire, vertical farming offers the solution. Vertical farming (VF) is complementing traditional agricultural methods and enhancing the sustainable food supply for a population that is expanding around the globe at a time of escalating economic and climatic stress. Additionally, livestock producers are beginning to recognize the value of feeding their livestock hydroponic sprouts, particularly beef and dairy cattle, as well as other animals including sheep, goats, chickens, pigs, horses, and rabbits.

Renaissance Ag is one such leading provider of vertical farm systems for year-round production of premium livestock feed. The company provides sustainable feed solutions to livestock producers, facilitates the upcycling of livestock waste, and partners with leading universities to research the benefits of hydroponic sprouts. Renaissance Ag is committed to empowering producers and consumers to achieve local food security by shortening and optimizing livestock feed production.

Renaissance Ag was founded in 2020 and is headquartered in Vineyard, Utah, USA.

Caleb Wilkins, CEO and Co-Founder of Renaissance Ag, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review about how his company is transforming the feed supply chain through vertical farming technology.

Renaissance Ag, a Pioneer in the Agtech Sector

Renaissance Ag is at the forefront of innovation in the agtech industry with its vertical farm solutions. Vertical Farming is not inherently new, nor is feeding livestock sprouted grain, but VF is evolving more rapidly now because the technology has allowed for the creation of autonomous systems, and more importantly, the need for these solutions is greater than ever because of the threats livestock producers are facing like drought, land use loss, high feed costs, rising input costs, and feed supply chain issues.

"Our particular systems are built to produce reliable access to foundational livestock feed. Reliable access to foundational feed reduces input costs and improves production volumes," said Caleb Wilkins.

So what is foundational feed?

Foundational feed is the production of premium, consistent, and flexible livestock feed for livestock producers. Foundational feed has two main components.

  • Hydroponic sprouts (i.e., barley and wheat)
  • Larvae protein

Mr. Wilkins further added, "There will no doubt be more investment into VF companies after the early adopters' testimonials and case studies tell of how VF is a viable option for creating food, but in our case, a premium, affordable, and reliable livestock feed every day of the year. The market for foundational feed is projected to balloon to $484 Billion by 2027. At the moment, we are building several systems capable of serving large- to medium-scale operations."

Renaissance Ag’s Principal Focus Areas

Renaissance Ag serves as a foundational production partner for livestock producers around the world. "Renaissance Ag will expand the partnership between crop and livestock producers and those who are engaged in promoting sustainable agriculture practices." The CEO stated that their key areas of focus are to:

Establishing local food security: Renaissance Ag is committed to empowering producers and consumers to achieve local food security by shortening and optimizing livestock feed production. Renaissance Ag focuses on establishing food security by strengthening local livestock producers. The company is transforming the feed supply chain by providing vertical farming technology that produces premium livestock feed. Renaissance Ag enables livestock producers to secure profit margins, empowering consumers to reliably source local products. Renaissance Ag will form partnerships with all who are interested in producing agricultural products more sustainably.

Expanding the science: The Microgreen Institute (MI) is the research and development division of Renaissance Ag. It will lead research and development in the areas of practicing regenerative agriculture, growing microgreens, feeding microgreens to livestock, recycling animal waste, ensuring animal welfare, mitigating greenhouse gasses from agricultural practices, and identifying the benefits of food produced in regenerative agricultural systems to human health. The MI will conduct research at Renaissance Ag laboratories and in cooperation with different universities and research centers. The generated data will be summarized and shared with different stakeholders engaged with Renaissance Ag.

Revealing the impact of premium feed on animal welfare: In partnership with myAnIML and Aglive, Renaissance Ag will track livestock health and quality of life from birth to plate. Renaissance Ag will show the impact of a consistent premium feed on livestock illness rates, fertility, morbidity, development performance (rate of gain, milk production, egg yield, etc.), and the subsequent nutritional quality of livestock products such as milk, meat, and eggs.

Reducing economic barriers: As there is a significant initial capital investment to purchase autonomous sprout-growing or animal waste-recycling units, Renaissance Ag will offer subscription services to the livestock producers so they can subscribe to the systems by paying a monthly fee.

Providing seed: As a part of our agreement with livestock producers, Renaissance Ag will be a source supplier of seed to grow microgreens. The seeds will be produced using regenerative agricultural practices at farms in mineral-rich areas under contract with Renaissance Ag. The seeds produced using regenerative agricultural practices are expected to be rich in phytochemicals. Thus, it is expected to enhance the quality of animal products when animals consume the microgreens produced using such seeds.

Leveraging Sustainable Solutions, for a Greener and Better Future

"We are working hard to produce a variety of sustainable livestock feed solutions,” said Caleb Wilkins.

Our vertical farm systems are small-to large-scale, autonomous, controlled-environment systems that produces premium hydroponic sprouts and protein for livestock daily.

  • Seed to feed in only six days with only three ingredients: seed, water, and LED light.
  • Reliable, Consistent Feed Production: PastureBox’s crop yield and crop quality are consistent and reliable 365 days a year.
  • Improved Production Efficiency: Improved milk income over feed cost, decreased cost per pound of gain for beef production, and improved animal health and welfare
  • Land-Sparing, High-Producing Space: Our systems produce up to 30,000 pounds of feed daily, which is equivalent 15 to 125 acres of alfalfa, and up 96 to 630 pounds of protein daily.
  • Minimal Water Requirements: Operates on up to 95% less water when compared to conventionally irrigated forage production.

Client Testimonial

“We are partnering with several farm partners that have been wonderfully supportive in working with us to build our VF systems. Without their support, none of this would be happening. Fortunately, we found partners who, like us, are looking to make some major innovations in agtech and are passionate about animal welfare and best sustainability practices,” emphasized Mr. Wilkins.

Some of the challenges producers face that our vertical farm systems overcome are:

High input costs: Volatile seed prices and operating costs for equipment, fuel, labor, livestock, and more are on the rise in agriculture.

Unreliable Feed: Seasonality, climate and weather, soil,harvest conditions, fertilizers, and pesticides are some of the leading factors that negatively affect feed quality and production.

Limited Production Volumes: Land encroachment and drought restrictions are limiting the amount of available land for growing crops and livestock grazing.

A Look Ahead: Roadmap

"We are thinking ahead, and we do have plans to continue pushing VF into regenerative areas at the farm level." Renaissance Ag’s goals are to:

  • Reduce synthetic fertilizer, pesticide, and herbicide applications in crop production.
  • Improve soil conditions using regenerative agricultural practices.
  • Provide a consistent feed supply to producers at a lower cost through microgreens and larval protein.
  • Conserve water.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions (methane and nitrous oxide) by improving diet and nutrient balancing.
  • Recycle nutrients.
  • Reduce transportation requirements.
  • Reduce the overall costs of production systems.

“Our particular systems are built to produce reliable access to foundational livestock feed. Reliable access to foundational feed reduces input costs and improves production volumes”