A Growing Number of Producers and Industries Interested in Precision Livestock Farming

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Second U.S. Precision Livestock Farming Conference Attracts Crowd

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Some of the world’s best minds that are focused on profitable and sustainable livestock production attended and presented at the recent Second U.S. Precision Livestock Farming Conference. Hosted by University of Tennessee AgResearch, the May 21-24 event at the UT Conference Center in Knoxville attracted 219 attendees representing 22 countries and 32 U.S. states. Participants included academics, representatives of government agencies and allied industries as well as producers. The conference had a central theme of “Field Application of PLF Technologies” and academic presentations along with two industry and producer panels included interactive dialogues among the attendees about ways to increase field adoption of PLF technologies.

More than 125 scientific papers were published in the conference proceedings, and twenty of those will be published in an upcoming special edition of the international journal Animals.

USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded the event a conference-strengthening grant to sponsor a mentoring luncheon for young professionals and early career scientists, attendance scholarships for minority producers from across the U.S., and attendance scholarships for faculty and extension educators from minority-serving institutions. The NIFA grant will also cover the publication costs for papers that were selected for inclusion in the special edition of Animals and which were also written by educators and scientists from minority-serving institutions.

The Conference Planning Committee was led by Robert Burns, a biosystems engineering distinguished professor with the UT Institute of Agriculture. Other members of the planning committee included Tami Brown-Brandl, a member of the biological systems engineering faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Brown-Brandl served as Program Subcommittee Chair. Jason De Koff, an Extension professor and agricultural and natural resources program leader at Tennessee State University, served as Scholarship Subcommittee Chair. Troy Rowan, an assistant professor with the UT Department of Animal Science, served as the Technical Tour Subcommittee Chair. Other UT faculty and staff in conference roles included Susan Schexnayder, senior research associate and the associate director for the Human Dimensions Lab in the UTIA School of Natural Resources, who served as Program Coordinator; Tom Tabler, a professor in the UT Department of Animal Science who served as Sponsorship Subcommittee Chair; and Yang Zhao, a UT assistant professor of Animal Science, who served as the Proceeding Subcommittee Chair. Daniel Berckmans, an adjunct distinguished professor with the UT Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, and Hongwei Xin, UT AgResearch dean, served as committee members.

Tennessee Department of Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, DVM, and Deputy Commissioner Jeff Aiken as well as UTIA Senior Vice Chancellor and Senior Vice President Keith Carver were also in attendance.

Xin was excited for UT AgResearch to co-sponsor the event. “The conference, in conjunction with the USDA-NIFA IDEAS Program PD annual meeting and the annual meeting of a multistate project on precision livestock management, provides a boost to the UT PLF Initiative while enhancing global collaborations toward seeking real life solutions for the livestock agriculture,” he said.

Burns thanked Carver and Xin for their support of the UTIA Precision Livestock Farming team. “Their attendance clearly demonstrated the strong support that the UT-PLF team has from upper administration within UTIA,” he said.

Carver, Xin and Burns all expressed appreciation to Commissioner Hatcher for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s forward-thinking support of the University’s PLF Initiative. Learn more at the website plf.tennessee.edu.

The conference was supported by a USDA NIFA Conference grant and generous donations of allied industries.

A selection committee solicitated and reviewed applications for hosting the next U.S. PLF conference in 2025 (USPLF2025). The University of Nebraska has been chosen to be the for USPLF2025 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions. utia.tennessee.edu.

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