Trouw Nutrition expands validation farm network

March 18, 2021 - Trouw Nutrition is doubling its network of validation farms from six to 12 farms. New validation farms are being added in Latin America, Canada, Spain, and the Netherlands.

The validation approach is borne of nearly three decades of experience proving the value of customer-centric research.

Complementing research conducted at Trouw Nutrition facilities and with partner universities, farm validation trials partner with local farmers to evaluate solutions in context with varying climate conditions and production constraints. Researchers evaluate how factors such as genetics, weather conditions, housing, management and health status impact the efficacy of nutritional solutions.

Coen Smits, R&D director at Trouw Nutrition, says "Validation farms support crucial and local trials that enable us to verify the practical efficacy and applicability of our innovations. The results and feedback of the farmer's user experience provides local operating companies with evidence-based insights that are highly relevant to local markets. With some minor adaptations at the farms, training of the farm employees, close supervision, and simple study protocols, we can conduct studies that are scientifically sound and have good statistical power to draw clear conclusions."

Trouw Nutrition's global research centres collaborate with operating companies to invest in long-term partnerships with regionally representative commercial farms. Operating companies share trial data to support local market staff and their farmer customers. Combining findings from validation farms supports the global value of products, programmes and services.

As a case in point from Trouw Nutrition Canada, partnerships were set up with several swine farms including breeding, nursery and grow-finish units since the early 1990s. A coast-to-coast testing farm network was set up to execute multi-location studies. Multi-location trials are highly powerful due to the number of replicates and the different housing, feeds, health, and genetics used in each site to compare the same treatments.

"We show our customers, which in our market are often big integrators, that we are focused on their needs. We share the results with customers as soon as we have them," says Renald Mercier, agr., business manager for swine and poultry in Eastern Canada.

After trials were completed, results were shared with other regions in Canada and the validation farm network became part of Trouw Nutrition's Research & Development to further strengthen the project. "Proven solutions are the foundation of the way we do business," emphasises Mercier.

Trouw Nutrition's Farm Data Integration (FDI) is a digital platform to efficiently track and trace animals or animal groups by treatments and make validation trials more accessible.

"FDI strives to power Trouw Nutrition's animal feed business with data driven solutions in feed, farm and health management. The validation farm project will bundle data per region or customer segment, to provide validation results that match the customer's circumstances better and are as such more valuable" explains Benny van Haandel, FDI manager at Trouw Nutrition.

FDI structures data collection and makes it available for central monitoring and analysis. FDI plans to connect more technology, software systems and sensors across the main species: dairy, beef, swine, layers and broilers. New techniques, including machine learning, will be applied to make more detailed advice possible. A widespread network of validation sites helps inform specific practices related to timing and dosing that apply in varied environments. "At the end, there is nothing more valuable than helping a client make decisions based on data from their region or their own data," concludes van Haandel.