May 16–18, 2017 | Memphis, TN
Davos on the Delta is an exclusive event convening 60 senior level industry leaders interested in how new technologies and business models are redefining the paradigm of innovation in agriculture. Through a combination of presentations by cornerstone companies catalyzing this transition, group discussions and one-on-one networking, participants will explore what will be different in this changing landscape and the new opportunities it can create across the value chain.
“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”
– Warren Buffett
For decades, the cost of high-tech research, legacy business models and lack of venture capital investment meant ag innovation was largely limited to a handful of companies with massive R&D budgets working within a complex value chain.
Recent advances in information technology, combined with innovations like gene editing, have launched a new generation of ag entrepreneurs such as Benson Hill Biosystems, Indigo, and others. Armed with cost efficient and increasingly powerful technologies, these new entrants are replacing linear “top down” models with a more horizontal architecture in which innovation comes from multiple directions at once.
This new innovation ecosystem is breaking down barriers and fostering fresh opportunities for companies willing to evolve and adapt: cloud biology to improve crop sustainability and nutrient-density, probiotics to displace fertilizer, and bioreactors as an alternative to soil, to name just a few.
The objective of the conference is to help senior leaders, startup CEOs and industry players understand how to harness the dynamics of the evolving industry.
Join with leading startups, key corporate leaders, the entire agricultural value chain, and smart investors as we all come together in Memphis, May 17-18 to discuss what’s happening in agriculture, who’s leading the way, what might happen next.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Farm Tour in Wilson, Arkansas - Lawrence Group
The Lawrence Group is seven years into a major project to transform and reinvigorate Wilson, Arkansas, and tens of thousands acres of investment-grade farmland surrounding it. The project goes as far as establishing a leading-edge independent school, organic-vegetable farm, cultural arts, and a world-class restaurant. This tour will give participants a chance to learn how private investment and technology are being applied to renew one of the largest cotton farming operations in the world and the community that supports it.
12:30 p.m. – Bus departs Peabody to drive to Wilson
4:30 p.m. – Bus departs Wilson to return to Peabody
6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. | Forest Room, Peabody Hotel, Memphis
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Welcome to Premier Davos on the Delta Event
8:00 a.m. | John D. Santi (Managing Director, Avondale Partners), Pete Nelson (President/Executive Director, AgLaunch Initiative), and Carter Williams (CEO, iSelect Fund)
Innovation Enables Patient Investment
Among other interests, the Lawrence Group operates an extensive farming enterprise, totaling some 180,000 acres of cultivated land, including one of world’s largest cotton and citrus operations. Messrs. Lawrence and Hussey will describe the opportunities and challenges driving technical innovation in agriculture.
Are Producers Ready For The Changes Ahead?
9:00 a.m. | Kevin Van Trump, president and founder of Farm Direction and the Van Trump Report | Speaker Bio
Large or small, farming is first and foremost a "business" that must return profits for the producers doing the work. Mr. Van Trump will discuss the challenges and opportunities producers face in the current and future business climate.
Five Issues, Opportunities for Top-Tier Farmers
9:30 a.m. | Robert Serio, attorney, Ark Ag Law pllc. | Speaker Bio
A 20,000-acre farm generates more than $12 million in annual revenue, $4 million in free cash flow, enough to afford an advanced management team. Mr. Serio will describe his client’s key issues and opportunities in the current market of $3.50/bu corn. Rising interest rates, a strengthening dollar and tighter trade regulations pressure farmers to become more efficient. Robert serves some 200 of America’s largest farmers and therefore understands firsthand how they are navigating this challenging environment.
Technological Innovations Reshaping Agriculture
10:30 a.m. | Pete Nelson (President/Executive Director, AgLaunch Initiative) and Carter Williams (CEO, iSelect Fund) | Speaker Bio
From gene editing to cloud computing to robotics, technological innovations are accelerating change in agriculture. Consumers are dictating food specifications that reverberate through the market channels back to point of production. Mr. Williams will review how technical innovations and changing consumer demands create opportunities and threats for producers.
Are Microbes Going to Put a Dent in the Market for Inputs?
11:00 a.m. | Barrett Ersek, CEO, Holganix | Speaker Bio
The organic market is growing rapidly. Water is increasing in scarcity and other inputs are creating environmental issues. How can today’s farmer solve for each of these equations simultaneously? Just as the human body needs beneficial microorganisms to enable digestion and growth and fight disease, crops require beneficial organisms to prosper. Today’s probiotics are generating the data to show improvements in yield while simultaneously reducing the need for inputs, thereby lowering the cost and increasing the sustainability of production.
Fighting Drought through Microbe Engineering
11:30 a.m. | Barry Knight, Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations, North America, Indigo Ag | Speaker Bio
Farmers looking to boost yields may soon find a new tool in their arsenal: microbes. Seed-coating manufacturer, Indigo Ag, has demonstrated that the right microbes can improve cotton yields 11%. To explain the potential impact of this new $5 billion industry, Mr. Knight will describe how IndigoAg is using beneficial microbes to enhance yields.
Investor Panel Discussion
12:30 p.m. | Andy Daniels (Daniels Trading), Luca Fabbri (Farmland Partners), Jan Bouten (Innova Ag Innovation Fund), David Latham (Southern Hunt Club) moderated by Craig Herron (iSelect)
As industry shifts to meet emerging consumer needs, new investment opportunities emerge. But who will invest in these opportunities? Will big companies invest in their future competitors? Are individual investors ready to step in to meet investment needs? Is Silicon Valley ready to lead the way for investment? Or will places like St. Louis, Kansas City and Memphis emerge as the new Silicon Valley?
The Potential of CRISPR and Gene Editing
1:30 p.m. | Todd Mockler, Ph.D., Donald Danforth Plant Science Center Geraldine and Robert Virgil Distinguished Investigator; CTO Benson Hill Biosystems | Speaker Bio
Genome editing is an emerging technology that revolutionizes a traditional practice. Genome editing accelerates product development by enabling precision breeding to harness natural variation within a crop species. Genes that cause unwanted traits can be knocked out, genes for preferred traits from the same species can be knocked in, and new products can get to market faster without multiple breeding cycles. The challenge is being able to identify the gene targets using advanced analytics… that’s where Todd and the Benson Hill team focus their efforts.
Nutrient Content versus Yield
2:30 p.m. | Natalie DiNicola, Benson Hill Biosystems | Speaker Bio
Benson Hill Biosystems’ CropOS™ computational platform leverages predictive analytics and machine learning to more precisely guide new product development, greatly improving the cost and speed of that process. This creates opportunity to redefine what crop innovation is targeted as well as who in the value chain is empowered to innovate. Can closing the gap between data and biology help close the gap between producers and consumers? Can competing traits such as crop yield and nutrient content evolve from a tradeoff to a joint opportunity and market differentiator? Dr. DiNicola will address these questions.
Memphis in May Riverfront Festival and Barbecue Competition
3:00 p.m. | sponsored by Daniels Ag
Thursday, May 18, 2017
Review of Day 1 Conclusions, Agenda for Day 2
Russian Dandelions and the Rise of the Industrial Crop
9:00 a.m. | Roger Beachy, chief science officer, Kultevat | Speaker Bio
Solutions are being sought to use sustainable, plant based alternatives for things like rubber, industrial dyes and high value hydrocarbons. Kultevat extracts high-value rubber from Russian Dandelions that can be grown in 42 states. What are the opportunities for today’s farmers in industrial crops?
How Does Tomorrow’s Farmer Meet the Needs of Evolving Consumer Expectations?
10:00 a.m. | Chris Harbourt, Ph.D., CEO, Agrible | Speaker Bio
Consumers are behind emerging trends in nutrient content, environmental sustainability and food safety, causing shifts in the supply chain. As a farmer, how can I position my business to take advantage of these trends? Agrible connects consumer brands directly to farmers providing valuable, actionable insights and improving profitability throughout the supply chain.
Bioreactors: The Agricultural Factories of the Future
11:00 a.m. | Tim Fitzgerald, ForeLight | Speaker Bio
Bioreactor designs are used to produce products ranging from antibiotics to foods to fuels. Recent advancements have had as much to do with technology as with biology. Forelight uses bioreactors to produce plant based, natural dyes and high nutrient proteins.
Killing Pests Without the Pesticide - Implications of RNAi in Agriculture
11:30 a.m. | John Killmer, CEO, Apse, Inc. | Speaker Bio
APSE has developed technology to enable cost-efficient production of RNA for broad acre topical RNAi and benign, sustainable RNAi products for urban-structural pest control. RNAi is a highly targeted, effective way to impart traits without genetic modification and specifically and sustainably control agricultural and non-agricultural insect pests.
Conference Summary Conclusions, Closing
Discussions Around Agricultural Innovation
System Dynamics: Leveraging advanced systems modeling out of MIT, Ventana System and iSelect are building an analytical model that represents the forces emerging in the agriculture market, including innovation trends and pathways to increase innovation and investment.
Dynamic Regulation: New thinking on regulatory approaches that enable innovation and protect consumers, all at a lower cost.
iSelect: A venture fund focused on substantially increasing agtech investment.
The Future of Ag: Remote sensing and geospatial technology spinning out of DoD, biosensors for food health, pathogen protection, reforming rural America, and more.
May 16-18 at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, TN
A huge amount of the best barbecue you will ever have
Wednesday night will feature a barbecue hosted by Andy Daniels of Daniels Trading
You’re Invited. Special Industry Party!
Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Contest
All “Davos on the Delta” conference attendees are invited to come join us for the most smoke-filled fun of your life. America’s most prestigious barbecue cooking competition is celebrating its 40th year in Memphis, TN this week, and Andy Daniels is inviting us all to his “Emily’s Tennessee Prime” tent for food, libations and great conversation with friends from the ag industry. Andy and his team have been competing in the annual contest for over a decade and in the process helping to raise thousands for St. Judes Children’s Hospital. Details and specifics about the BBQ contest and the social event will be e-mailed following sign-up.
The World Famous Peabody Hotel
With a style and tradition befitting one of Memphis’ grandest, most legendary hotels, The Peabody Memphis offers a magnificent bridge between the “Blues City’s” celebrated past and cosmopolitan present. Nestled in the heart of downtown, our historic Forbes Four-Star, AAA Four-Diamond hotel offers a one-of-a-kind experience just blocks from Beale Street, the Memphis Rock ‘n Soul Museum, the Gibson Guitar Factory, Fed-Ex Forum, Sun Studio, the Orpheum Theatre and the Memphis Cook Convention Center. Of course, The Peabody itself is also one of Memphis’ most beloved attractions. Peabody history dates back to 1869 and when the original Peabody Hotel opened on the corner of Main & Monroe and immediately became the social and business hub of Memphis. It was 1933 when ducks were originally placed in the hotel’s lobby fountain, setting in motion an 80-year tradition that continues today with the March of the Peabody Ducks. The Peabody name has become synonymous with the 5 North American mallard ducks that are now the living symbol of the Peabody brand.
149 Union Ave,
Memphis, TN 38103
Will you join us?
May 16-18, 2017
At a time of rising pressures on growers, shifting demand from consumers, and unprecedented consolidation in our industry, agriculture is poised for a more diverse and robust innovation ecosystem that will propel our industry, and its next generation of innovation leaders, into the future.
Be part of the discussion.
The following companies will be represented at the conference:
Angelina Ag dba Oak River Farms
Ark Ag Law
Benson Hill Biosystems
Dobbs Equity Partners LLC
Donald Danforth Plant Science Center
Farmland Partners Inc.
G. M. Lawrence and Co
Grain Millers Inc
Green Plains, Inc
Hermiston Ag Enterprises
Innova Ag Innovation Fund
Lansing Trade Group, LLC
Lean Media, Inc.
Lewis & Clark Ventures
Mayberry Seed Co
Memphis Bioworks Foundation
The Pathfinder Group of Princeton
Petroleum Transfers Inc
Prudential Agricultural Investments
Southern Hunt Club
University of St. Thomas School of Law
Van Trump Report
Ventana Systems, Inc.
Weidert Land Company
Zeus Development Corporation