Nutreco backs cloud-based feed management start-up

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/vaeenma
© GettyImages/vaeenma
A German developer of digital solutions for more efficient feeding management in livestock farming has secured a partnership with Nutreco.

Dresden-based start-up, fodjan, is a specialist in the field of efficient feed management for livestock. The firm said its smart, cloud-based software makes it possible to reduce feed costs, increase operational efficiency while also improving animal health.

Nutreco first became aware of fodjan as a finalist in its first incubator concept, the Feed Tech Challenge, in 2017. That initiative allows startups to compete to win a proof-of-concept trial in one of Nutreco’s facilities.

"Ever since fodjan participated in the Nutreco Feed Tech Challenge, we have been impressed with their ability to deliver nutritional insight to farmers effectively,​" said Nutreco CEO Rob Koremans. 

While feeding programs traditionally work with a linear model, fodjan said its Smart Feeding program works with an algorithm that enables "multi-objective optimization".​ It weighs all factors relevant for feeding and gives the user an overview of the different realistic feeding strategies. The software takes into account the feed inventory and needs of the herd itself, and proposes alternative rations based on it.

Nutreco's chief innovation officer, Viggo Halseth, told us that Nutreco took an interest in this particular technology as fodjan has developed an on-farm dairy feed formulation app that enables multi-parameter ration optimization such as lowest cost feed, income over feed costs, cow health and that can be linked to input and output data such as feed wagon or milking robot.

He said there is further differentiation in comparison to competing solutions in that fodjan's technology includes high usability of its interface by farmers as opposed to nutritionists or experts only. It is also a mobile device-driven platform. 

This month also saw fodjan secure a global partnership with Schaumann, a German feed specialist. 

Dairy farm management experts, the Lely Group in the Netherlands, which set up a partnership with fodjan two years ago, said it welcomed the additional strategic partners.

“The input from different disciplines opens up the possibility of giving even more benefits to farmers.”

In terms of what a partnership of this nature entails, Halseth said:

"Alongside the other strategic partners, Lely and Schaumann, Nutreco’s Trouw Nutrition division will be working with the fodjan team to further develop its digital solution and to support deployment in additional geographic markets. Developments include linking to the NutriOpt On-site Advisor and NutriOpt nutritional models."

Nutreco investments

Speaking to this publication last May, Halseth said that following the first Nutreco Tech Challenge, besides the winner, MicroSynbiotiX, Nutreco actually collaborated, to some degree, with six of the other finalists.

Nutreco, he continued, had also been busy identifying, developing and investing in next generation, sustainable products, models and services throughout the feed and food protein value chain, and has set up a platform – Nutreco NuFrontiers – to drive that.

“We want to invest in start-ups that have relevant ingredients for Trouw Nutrition or Skretting or digital solutions that could strengthen our technical services.”

The company is hoping to invest in three to five products or technologies per year.

In July this year, Nutreco announced that it had invested in Israeli startup, ViAqua, as part of its focus on combatting disease in the aquaculture industry. ViAqua is developing the first orally-administered treatment for shrimp that improves resistance to viral diseases, including White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV), and prevents viral epidemics. Nutreco said it had taken a meaningful minority share in the start-up that will conditionally grow over time.

And, in April 2018, Nutreco said it took a 25% stake in Eruvaka, an India-based Internet of Things (IoT) company that develops connected devices and mobile-based decision tools aimed at helping shrimp farmers increase productivity.

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