Increasing sustainability in the poultry industry

Welcome, everyone. This is MTech AGcelerate. My name is Nikolay Shchetikhin and I have Jim Johnston with me as usual, and we have a guest would have Padmini Persaud. Welcome, everyone. Hi, Nick. Hello. Thank you for having me. Hi. Good to see you. 

[00:35] Yeah, hey, we got some really topical subject today for the AGcelerate show. We’re talking about sustainability. And we’re talking with Padmini, who is MTech’s new environmental engineer that just started with the business on the first of June. That’s right. Great stuff. Welcome to the team. Thank you. Thank you for having me. 

[01:00] Yeah. And today we’re going to discuss sustainability. It’s a very interesting topic. But before we get into it, Padmini would you like to tell us a little bit about your story? 

[01:13] Sure, sure. SoI got my bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of Florida. And then I also have my Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering, from the University of Tennessee. And all of the work that I’ve been doing has had to do with the environment in some way. It started, you know, with water and wastewater research. And then progressively I went on to do more urban stormwater research, basically in green infrastructure planning. And now I’m focusing primarily on sustainability, with my role in MTech.    

[01:55] Fantastic. So, you know, that’s a really good career so far in terms, a lot of learning at a university so why particularly agriculture and sustainability why choose this as your career? 

[02:12] So I, I’ve always been interested in sustainability practices, I actually feel like it started while I was at the University of Florida, I took a class on LCS lifecycle analyses. And when you think about agriculture, and sustainability, it’s all just one big lifecycle process. And a lot of the analysis that’s done for sustainability in agriculture has to do with that. And so I really feel like I just enjoyed the whole process of looking at a process’s lifecycle, and the inputs and outputs that go into it. And so it seems like a very great fit for me to come to MTech and do that as well. And I was really taken aback by how interested the company is in pursuing sustainability, as well.

[03:02] Sustainability is a big topic, it’s everywhere, it’s on the news, it’s on company websites, on social media, everybody’s talking about sustainability, and everybody’s trying to put strategies in place for it. But, from what I see, there is no one definition of sustainability, what it is, how to achieve it, where to get it, how to get there. So maybe you could just tell us a little bit about that. So what is your definition of sustainability? 

[03:37] So to me, sustainability is about your resources, right? It’s being able to provide for a need without jeopardizing a huge population, the pursuit of satisfying that need, you know, so it all comes down to what kind of resources we have, and making sure that what we’re using is not going to be depleted into the in the future for what future people need. And so I feel like sustainability also should include an element of resilience to it as well. There’s a lot of change happening environmentally and climatically for everyone in the world. And so the term resilience could also be added to it just to add a more dynamic nature to how we think about things. So resilience would mean basically, how can you recover? or How can you manage and adapt to changes that are happening? So, to me, it’s a twofold Answer. Sustainability is not just thinking about the resources you currently have, but also thinking about how you’re going to change to your conditions in the future as well. 

[04:48] Yeah, hey, that’s, that’s a nice subject. You know, I mean, the poultry industry that we’ve been working in for quite a number of years is, is good at change, you know, and adapts to the changes the consumer wants and requires. The industry has adapted over the years and the sustainability issue is, is the next level of change that we need to embrace. And that’s the next journey. Why do you think this whole sustainability drive is important to the world? What’s your view on that?     

[05:23] Well, I feel like, you know, now, we are feeling a lot of the effects of climate change. In particular, you know, you have a lot of extreme weather happening everywhere, there’s a lot more rain, there’s droughts, there’s these intense heat waves that are happening. And now, you know, the sustainability concept, the sustainability movement is taking up a bigger role, because people are now feeling the effects. You know, these are things that, have been building up, you know, for the past couple of decades, and now we’re finally understanding why it’s so important and why we need to care. And it’s because we physically feel it now, you know, you feel the heat, you feel when your cities are flooding, or, you know, when you have intense droughts. And so globally, that’s why it’s important, you know, to kind of combat what’s been happening, and try to figure out how to move forward as a society as a whole. 

[06:22] Right? Yeah, we definitely can feel it sometimes now. And companies big and small, are also feeling it, they are feeling it in the way they produce and in the way consumers react to the changes in their products. And many poultry companies, big and small, producing retailing, all kinds of companies now are claiming their strategies to sustainability to carbon neutrality. And some of them are pretty aggressive. Right? And what do you think how really realistic, those claims are to be carbon neutral, by 2030 or 2040?    

[07:09] Well, honestly, it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of things that need to change in every element of processing from you know, the things that you do in growing crops and raising chickens and processing chickens and packaging, to you know, any kind of product you have in agriculture. In general, it’s going to take a lot of effort, not just from these companies that will be investing money, but also on the part of individual farmers and society as a whole. There’s, I feel there is a big push for sustainability, as people are becoming more and more aware of the issues, I think there just has to be more of a shift in priorities as well. So no it’s not impossible, it’s just going to take some adaptations in thinking, I think, and it’s going to be more of a mental hurdle than it is going to be a physical hurdle to get over in terms of becoming fully carbon neutral. 

[08:16] Okay, and yeah, so it’s quite an exercise to measure yourself, I guess, and then to look at how you can improve and it’s a whole new area that businesses need to start getting comfortable with and understand how to manage it. But so what are the areas that we need to quantify then Padmini? I mean, how do you quantify a company’s level of sustainability. 

[08:40] So it all comes down to your emissions and your resource usage, right. So the easiest thing for companies to do is to focus on their greenhouse gas emissions and their CO2 production. And you know, there’s a lot of international or national programs that are available for people to pledge themselves to. And through those programs, there’s an accountability aspect to it, you have to follow guidance and protocols for measuring all of these emissions that you’re producing. And that’s the most direct way to go about understanding, first of all, what you are emitting, and then secondly, how you can improve as well. 

[09:28] I guess there will be quite a lot needed especially for the farmers and for those people that are actually working on the ground because they have never been doing anything like that they’ve been just producing feed or producing chickens and never measuring any emissions or anything like that. So this would be more of a mindset change for them as well. 

[09:53] Right. That’s, it’s more societal based. I mean, we have the technology to do all the Measuring. But you know, it’s up to individuals to commit themselves to the change as well. 

[10:09] But I mean, it’s an industry that is used to measuring things. I mean, we measure a lot, you know, as a poultry industry or swine production. We measure an awful lot. And we have heaps of data, I suppose it’s about finding a way to leverage that data because a lot of the data has already been, you know, collected and by production companies certainly we have the ability of utilizing that to be able to start to measuring our sustainability and carbon footprint.

[10:44] Absolutely. And you know, it doesn’t really take a lot of, you know, complex numbers to get to an idea of what’s going on, you know, even things, things simple as how much electricity you use on a farm or how many miles you have to travel to transport things. It’s not a very complex calculation, it’s just a matter of just punching the numbers really. 

[11:09] Yeah, grabbing all that data and being able to process it. And so you get logical and credible answers at the end of the day. So it’s becoming a really important issue, you know, I noticed BRF has just gone public with their target, is it carbon zero, by 2040? I think it was. And just a couple of months back, I saw Tyson there, you know, they’ve set their very public targets for being zero carbon. And it’s a really big topical area in consumers’ minds right now. As well, as you know, retailers, foodservice chains, all going public on these numbers and setting targets very public targets. So, It’s good to learn how do we start to do this, and it’s great to have you on board as a specialist and part of the team that can really understand it and helps us and our customers understand it much better. Right. But I guess, you know, it’s been really good talking to you today, I think, you know, we’ve been through, your passion for the subject. I think that’s always fantastic to hear your background, your education, but the fact you’re passionate about sustainability and industry is really cool. So that came over very nicely today. And, we work with a lot of customers who have data and measure the data. So this is like adding an additional capability to that data and being able to crunch it so we help them measure the level of sustainability and we can help them improve going forwards in this very important area. Many thanks for your time today. It’s been great to talk to you. Yeah. Thank you, guys, for having me on this podcast. 

[13:06] Yeah. Thanks for being here. And Jim, I think we need to have another goal of our sustainability game now we have a specialist onboard. Good idea. All right. For those who are watching us, and don’t want to miss any new episodes, please follow us on social media. We are on LinkedIn on Instagram and on Twitter and don’t forget to check our website and we will see you in the next episode. Okay, see you next Cheers.