The 2021 AFMA Symposium took place on 18 and 19 October via an interactive virtual event. The two-day symposium consisted of seven sessions during which 19 experts discussed the future of agriculture with a focus on animal production.

The gist of the discussions summarised how animal production can be more sustainable. Topics ranged from low crude protein diets for reduced greenhouse gas reduction, to reduced antibiotic use. The topic of digitalisation and automation was also covered extensively.

Policy change for sustainable production

Sustainable animal production is one of the most important topics in the feed industry. Specific issues in this realm are the emissions associated with meat production, as well as animal welfare. This topic will keep getting more attention as the population increases and food production increases alongside it.

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The virtual platform allowed delegates to watch sessions and network in the online exhibition area.

Tom Battagliese, senior manager of global sustainability metrics at BASF Nutrition and Health, highlighted the new Farm to Fork Strategy that companies in the European Union (EU) have committed to, to reduce carbon emissions throughout their value chains. This means that the feed industry will also need to respond to this call to reduce climate change. The New Green Deal of the EU with its farm to fork approach will include environmental labelling for food produced in the EU and imported by the EU by 2024. Not only is there a focus on lowering emissions, but there is also a focus on lowering water and land use.

Improving animal welfare with gut health

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Andries van der Merwe won the Koos van der Merwe/AFMA Student of the Year Award.

New research on the animal welfare front was explained by Dr Guilherme Borchardt, senior technical manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Chr Hansen Animal Health. Dr Borchardt focussed on the role of the animal microbiome in animal well-being. The fact that an optimal gut microbiome improves animal well-being has been well established. But now, research has shown that it can also change the behaviour of animals. This could play an important role in animal welfare.

Dr Borchardt shared results from research done on poultry and the microbiome. Layers and broilers showed a positive change in behaviour when they ingested specific gut bacteria. Read the article about this topic in the symposium edition of AFMA Matrix by clicking here.

AFMA awards students

Student awards are a highlight of the AFMA symposium each year. Andries van der Merwe of the University of the Free State (UFS) won the Koos van der Merwe/AFMA Student of the Year Award. Victor Makofane from the University of Limpopo and Ofhani Michael Mavhungu from the UFS were the recipients of the Professor Rob Gous Scholarship, sponsored by Chemuniqué.

Plaas Media was the proud media partner of the event and would like to congratulate AFMA for hosting a successful virtual event. To read some of the articles of the symposium speakers, click here to access the digital flipbook of the symposium edition of AFMA Matrix. – Ursula Human, AgriOrbit