Ep 60 Mark Ferguson on science, sheep, and the tech-enabled future of genetics

We originally published this episode back in February 2020, but we’re pulling it out of the vault (with a few edits) as an early holiday gift ;) Enjoy!

Mark “Ferg” Ferguson has taught me pretty much everything I know about the sheep industry. Or at least, he’s the first reason I became passionate about the massive potential of merinos, and the role of technology and genetics in unlocking this potential.

Ferg, who holds a PhD in genetics and has worked in the industry his whole life, has developed a science-based approach to the consulting he now does through neXtgen Agri. But though he’s now working with cutting edge tech like artificial intelligence and sheep facial recognition, don’t mistake him for a tech head: he’s committed to helping farmers across Australia and New Zealand align with consumer trends and improve the profitability of their operations.

In this episode, Ferg and I cover everything from his views on the future of the sheep industry, to how he has started his own company to scale his consulting business and help more farmers use genetics to improve profitability.

And if you don’t know much about sheep, tune in anyways as Ferg shares some tips for both farmers looking to challenge traditional ways of thinking, and agtech companies looking to better understand and connect with their customers.

For more on what Ferg is up to, or to join neXtgen Agri’s online courses, check out:

  • https://www.nextgenagri.com/

  • https://twitter.com/neXtgenAgri

  • https://twitter.com/Fergenetics

  • https://www.nextgenagri.com/articles/farmer-people-that-farm-article-1

  • Artificial Intelligence work: https://www.nextgenagri.com/articles/seen-one-seen-them-all

  • NZ Merino: https://www.nzmerino.co.nz/

Key takeaways