Tech, talent & trade key themes at AgTech NEXT

Recently, I had the pleasure of connecting with leaders and innovators at the AgTech NEXT 2022 conference, where technology, talent, and trade were trending topics. This year’s theme – Reinventing a Food System in Crisis – was explored in depth by keynote speakers, panelist discussions, and networking conversations.


Technology-centric discussions were arguably the largest component of last week’s event with this being such a critical time for our global food systems.

World Food Prize Laureate Cynthia Rosenzweig spoke on the collaboration needed between ag, food, and climate researchers to overcome the obstacles facing the agri-food system. It is clear that the agriculture industry needs to be included in climate change discussions as modeling continues to show the strain that crops will be forced to weather. Jumpstarting field trials with research-backed modeling ensures innovation and decision-making are based on science.


Several sessions centered on intentional, inclusive hiring practices that bring a diversity of experience and thought into an organization.

Keynote speaker Julie Borlaug noted that today’s talent looks for organizations with a culture that supports their long-term growth in tangible ways through continuing education, leadership development, and executive coaching. Julie emphasized the importance of leadership that truly embodies a company’s core values because culture starts at the top. Positioning the purpose of an organization and connecting that mission to its employees provides a common goal and promotes positive culture.

“The greatest thing about this new talent is that they’re bold. They want to see a difference. They want to live their values, they want a company to live their values, and they want to see a better world.”

Julie Borlaug, President, Borlaug Foundation; CIMMYT Advisor


The lasting effects of the pandemic and other socioeconomic factors such as the Ukrainian war continue to impact trade across the globe.

Panel moderator Kenneth Zuckerberg, Lead Analyst & Senior Economist for CoBank, noted that supply chain disruptions and labor challenges will continue to be major factors moving forward. From immigration law changes that affect migrant workers to the increasing frequency and severity of catastrophic weather losses, the global trade systems are strained. Renewable diesel will be a game-changer according to Ken, as it is projected to grow more than six-fold by 2030. This growth will require over 65 million new acres of soybeans, which provides an opportunity for innovation to increase soybean yields.