“It’s been a long journey from disinherited farm kid to someone fixated on measuring cattle eructation,” says Dr. Patrick Zimmerman, founder and CEO of C-Lock Inc., Rapid City, South Dakota. “Agriculture’s future is so exciting—I wish I had just one more lifetime.”
His journey began inauspiciously on a small family farm but gathered momentum hitting key points along the way including bachelor’s and master’s degrees, a Ph.D., EPA funded proposals, and studies of termite emissions. More than a dozen patents and 100 scientific papers boast his name. He served as senior scientist and head of Atmospheric Chemistry Division’s Trace Gas Biogeochemistry Section and became the Director of the Institute of Atmospheric Sciences, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology.
All these measured steps led to the birth of C-Lock Inc. in 2005.
“In academia, we published a lot of ground-breaking papers, but nothing ever seemed to happen,” he lamented. “I started C-Lock because I believed if we could leverage the free-market system by taking cutting edge science and applying it with advanced technology, we could help animal agriculture be more efficient, improve a farmer’s bottom line and reduce our environmental footprint.”
Part of Dr. Zimmerman’s original vision for C-Lock came from an awareness of the large number of cattle losses accumulating in landfills.
“This issue had increased immensely, and a by-product of these losses was massive GHG emissions,” he said. “Deaths were approaching 10% in some feedlots, but no one seemed to be talking about the problem.”
C-Lock’s initial conception, the GreenFeed, used this inspiration to help address the crisis with equipment to monitor livestock health more accurately for quicker intervention, thereby significantly lowering death losses and reducing GHG emissions.
Fifteen years later, their prototype 18 sensor GreenFeed system has become the foundation for much more advanced product expansion, thanks to equipment gathering data in 40 countries.
With today’s internet speed and computer technology Dr. Zimmerman anticipates the development of even more innovative forage intake predictions from pasture, methane measurements, illness identifications, and enhanced digestion efficiencies.
“We must deal with large numbers of animals as individual biological units,” he said. “Our products will help our clients provide the right amount of feed at the right time, generate more meat per pound of forage through improved health monitoring, intervention, and accurate supplementation. This has never been possible before but with our talented people at C-Lock working together for this common goal, I’m certain we will be a large part of these solutions.”
by Bruce Derksen