Technology and agriculture

Mar 14, 2018


ANNOUNCER:    Welcome to the latest “Block Talk ” podcast brought to you by CRYSTALYX® Brand supplements. Jon Albro is the Western Region Sales Manager with CRYSTALYX Brand Supplements. He’s been thinking about innovation in agriculture and what it means for livestock nutrition and supplementation. Jon, you write about technology and agriculture in your latest CRYSTALYX blog. What are some of the advancements and applications that have had a significant impact?

JON:                  When you look at the animal agricultural business, livestock nutrition, there’s been a lot of advancements over the years, and sometimes you don’t see those advancements in a one-year time frame, or even two or three. But if you think about it in terms of a decade or several decades, you can easily pick those out. A lot of technology like implants and ionophores and different equipment that we use in feed mixing, ration-balancing software…from October through March, and we fed the beef cows on low-quality forages and that was kinda the only application we thought of it. And since then we’ve had a lot of applications with using it for mineral delivery, additive delivery like fly control in the summertime. We’ve had an ionophore with Bovatec. And just a lot of the things we’ve done over the years, we’ve really brought it along with a lot of the other technological advances and made it an even more valuable tool.

ANNOUNCER:    It hasn’t been without its doubters though. What has been some of the biggest skepticism and doubts about CRYSTALYX over the years?

JON:                  Skepticism and doubts come with anything that’s new. I remember my, some of my relatives talking about the older generation sometimes wanting to fight progress. You’ve probably heard that statement before as well, but I think that’s just human nature to be a little skeptical, and I think probably one of the biggest doubts, or skepticisms that’s been involved with CRYSTALYX is just actually it’s cost. If people have never understood it, or never fed it or never witnessed it in use, the first thing they’re going to be skeptical of is how much it costs, because the cost per ton is very high compared to a lot of commodities. And what you really need to get past is that actual up-front cost and look at what it’s really costing the animal per-head, per-day…being an effective delivery system for a lot of different nutrients, and it’s just really a lot of benefit aspects. And so, that’s pretty much a fundamental point that needs to be understood right from the get-go when you’re looking a CRYSTALYX or  if somebody’s out there selling it, that’s one of the first things they have to know.

Related article: What innovation has done for business

ANNOUNCER:    So, what do you think has been the best innovation as far as CRYSTALYX goes?

JON:                  A couple of things. Part of the answer to that is that there’s been a realization of what CRYSTALYX can do. From a consumption standpoint it’s very predictable, and it’s consumed by a wide range of animals, and so people have come to the realization that it’s a good delivery system for a mineral program for example. That’s one, but, as far as an actual, physical, tangible development, I would have to say it’s the Weatherall BioBarrel®…it’s been a great innovation for us and its advanced, we’ve had it out for twelve years now and we’ve made two or three different changes, or overhauls or two or three different generations of the BioBarrel to make it even better. And the latest being the Weatherall technology that gives it a little bit more weatherability resistance as well. So that’s probably been number one, in my opinion.

ANNOUNCER:    And I think it speaks, too, to the adaptability of the when they were a little skeptical at first, but they certainly have adapted to it over the years.

JON:                  Absolutely.

ANNOUNCER:    Now, the livestock industry isn’t that much different than any other industry in that you have to continue to innovate and move ahead and survive.

JON:                  Correct. I think that if you look at agriculture over the years it’s done nothing but become more efficient. We are producing more grain, we’re producing more farms with beef, with poultry, more pounds of milk today than we were fifty years ago with, in a lot of cases half the numbers of animals and a lot less land. And, I really don’t think agriculture has anything to apologize for…it hasn’t happened by accident; the livestock industry advances haven’t happened by accident, and I like to tell producers you really have nothing to apologize for. Often times agriculture can be criticized for maybe not being environmentally friendly or using a lot of additional resources that could be better used elsewhere in producing food, but, without these technological advances, we’d be looking at producing food like we were back in the 1940s, which I don’t think anybody wants to go back to that.

ANNOUNCER:    Looking forward, what do you think is the future for trace mineral supplementation? What’s it going to look like?

JON:                  Well, I think we’re doing a lot of things, and we our parent company, Alltech, is doing a lot of really neat things along that line of how we supplement minerals. And maybe not so much the physical way of how we do it. Albeit CRYSTALYX has shown some benefits that the form of supplementing the mineral through the CRYSTALYX block form is very effective, because it gets consumed readily. But, I believe that a lot of the sources of ingredients are really going to become more scrutinized. There’s a lot more concentration on organic trace minerals now...we’re just going to become more efficient and more effective in how our minerals are fed, just like we’ve become more efficient and effective in a lot of other technologies in agriculture. I’m not an agronomist, but when I tell this story or talk about these things to people who are agronomists or know a lot about plant science, they’re very quick to agree with me, because I think the agronomy world has come a long ways with some of this chemistry as well.

ANNOUNCER:    So how does CRYSTALYX fit that with products like Blueprint?

JON:                  It’s been accepted very well. My fellow bloggers within CRYSTALYX organization have written about and talked about Blueprint and even done some podcasts about this as well. And it’s basically just using all the organic trace minerals and removing the inorganics, like I mentioned earlier. But, I would have to say that Blueprint has been much more accepted by our customers and by livestock producers when you explain it to them. It’s easier for them to grasp on to the concept and accept it as something that’s good probably a lot easier for them to accept it than it has been for some of our own people. Some of us that are in the industry that have always done it a certain way, or we’ve got a lot of conventional wisdom ingrained into our minds that this is how we’ve always done it and this is how we learned and this is what the old system was and sometimes embracing change can be difficult. But, again, I think a lot of advancements in agriculture and in other industries, other fields of discipline, only make improvements when people step outside the box and look somewhere else.

ANNOUNCER:    I kinda liked your message along these lines too that you shared within the blog about keeping an open mind and always looking to improve your nutrition programs.

JON:                  I like to use the phrase, or the comparison that I just talked about as far as our customers understanding some of these advancements better than us, because, maybe they don’t have preconceived notions and it’s a lot like people who are around livestock every day. You take a herdsman on a dairy or you take the pen rider at a feedlot or somebody who’s actually feeding the animals and watching them every day and looking at them, they will understand a lot of these changes and see a lot of these benefits visually a lot quicker than somebody who’s sitting behind a desk just looking at rations and numbers on a paper. And that’s kind of unfortunate, because we have a lot of consultants in this world that, in my opinion, probably, would benefit from being around more of the herdsmen, more of the cowboys, more of the feedlot pen riders to understand some of these types. Not to be critical, just an observation.

ANNOUNCER:    Jon has a lot more thoughts about keeping an open mind as you continue to try to improve your nutrition programs and what lies ahead for livestock supplementation in his latest blog on the CRYSTALYX website.

ANNOUNCER:    That’s it for this “Block Talk” podcast brought to you by CRYSTALYX Brand Supplements an easy way to provide self-fed protein, vitamins and trace minerals in a low moisture supplement formulated for all types of feeding situations from low quality forages to fly control and everything in between. Learn more about all that CRYSTALYX has to offer by going to It all adds up to Results by the Barrel.


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