JANUARY 2020 www.irishfarmersmonthly.com ambitions in terms of engaging on a bigger scale than just as a business.” There is a real challenge ahead in terms of the Planet of Plenty given the fact that we have double the population and half the arable land we had six decades ago, as Mark Lyons acknowledges: “One of the reasons that I am optimistic is when you look at what we achieved in the past, and you look how far we’ve come, you realise what is possible. We are doing so much more with far, far less today, and we also know that in many cases, food producers are not utilising the latest technology. Traditionally, farmers were pushed to lower their costs while consumers are asking about the environmental and societal impact of food production and about animal welfare and a range of other things. A big part of what we’re trying to do is connect the food chain and discuss how to bring novel innovations into a relatively traditional industry. We hear a lot about disruption but I don’t think that bringing this technology to farm level has to be a disruption, I think it can be a collaboration. We want to speak to retailers and regulators and we want to talk to the producers to pull all of this together. I think if we have that joined-up thinking, then we can match this challenge and more. We feel very positive about it. We’ve been able to see how much emissions can be reduced when they become part of the equation. It’s about sending that signal to our producers and rewarding them economically for taking those actions that we want them to take.” Interview “It’s our belief that if we utilise technologies and that infinite human ingenuity then we can create a world of abundance, not a world of finite resources and scarcity.” Health and efficiency Mark is adamant that science can solve many of the problems facing us in food production: “We need to be thinking about it as an animal welfare issue. We want an animal that is at her healthiest and producing in the most efficient manner. These highly productive animals are, in many ways, the most environmentally efficient. We also need to be thinking about the nitrogen and manure cycles. We’re looking, for instance, at what is in the animal’s diet and the manure produced and how that works in the crop cycle. In a joined-up system we can really utilise science to mitigate the risks. We’ve been able to show by optimising rumen function in the dairy cow, we can achieve doubledigit greenhouse gas emission reductions.” Innovation driving Alltech The head of Alltech places much emphasis on innovation: “Within Alltech we’re really doubling down on our innovation through our bio-science centres. We have research alliances and a lot of what we’re doing relates to the Planet of Plenty concept and making it happen by working together, by fully engaging all of our own people and also creating partnerships with others. That’s the drive that the business has today. We are really a house of innovation and invention. We know that there are things that take place outside of our walls so we want to be open to those ideas and then make sure that by working together we can really tackle some of the biggest sustainable development goals we have like zero hunger and improving overall nutrition and human health. The business is very purpose driven. Profit has never been the driver: it is an outcome from what we do.” The ONE Conference Commenting on the company’s innovative think-tank conference, ONE, Mark is already looking forward to upcoming 2020 event. “I always describe the ONE conference as the greatest example of incremental improvement that I’ve seen in my career. Each year we improve, we challenge ourselves, we think differently, and the team is already well at work. This year, we have a got a great programme lined up. Last year we had Bear Grylls on the main stage. Previously we’ve had Colin Powell and Steve Wozniak, and other great speakers. But what’s happening now is the other sessions like beef, dairy and human nutrition are becoming so strong and we are trying to make more of the content available to people. But, at the same time, I think the networking opportunities, with 3,500 people in Lexington, makes ONE an extraordinary experience. This year, we will be celebrating our 40th year of the company so we’re very excited to be welcoming everybody to Lexington on the 17th of May.” 13