Precision Dairy

The primary focus of the PRECISION DAIRY project is to link ICT based disciplines with dairy systems research in order to develop real-time decision support systems for dairy farmers. Autonomous, battery operated sensors will be scattered throughout the farms to sense real-time data in relation to animal and grassland production in order to improve productivity, disease management, animal mobility tracking and event forecasting. Information obtained from these precision dairy farming applications, however, is only useful if interpreted and utilized efficiently in decision making. Therefore, a prototype platform to communicate the real-time data to a central server and interpret the data collected from diverse sensor infrastructures will be developed. Thereafter, a number of mediums to provide feedback to the farmer will be designed and tested with the focus placed on providing real-time information for creating reports to identify deviations, to facilitate timely informed decisions.

This project should ultimately revolutionise the attitude towards ICT in pasture based milk production systems and could result in a dramatic increase in the use of ICT in pasture based milk production systems in Ireland through the demonstration of the potential for tools to advance the decision making process.

Precision dairy farming is an inherently interdisciplinary field incorporating concepts from bioinformatics, biostatistics, pasture and animal breeding, animal husbandry and nutrition, machine learning, sensor networking, autonomic network management and engineering. The project work will, therefore, be carried out in 5 work-packages:

  1. Development and enhancement of precision dairy farming technologies that relate to individual animal performance, feed-base and operational farm management.
  2. Development of an efficient controllable solution for a wireless sensor communication for farm monitoring and virtual fence applications.
  3. Computational biology analysis, including optimising the efficiency of data transfer and the development of algorithms from biosignals into biologically significant observational data.
  4. Development of a test-bed evaluation platform for precision technologies in a working farm context.
  5. Integration of precision farming technologies with pasture-based decision support resources.

The aim of PRECISIONDAIRY project is to develop an integrated, zero-touch, real-time ICT solution to increase the economic and environmental sustainability of dairy farming through the collection, integration and interpretation of large quantities of real-time farm-monitoring data. The objectives of PRECISIONDAIRY are three fold:

  1. Increase the efficiency and sustainability of Irish pasture-based dairy farming through the application of advanced sensor and communication technologies.
  2. Develop integrated real-time and delay-tolerant autonomous (routing, monitoring and management) algorithms and systems to manage on-farm sensor monitoring infrastructures and applications such as virtual fencing.
  3. Use state-of-the-art computational biology approaches (e.g., artificial intelligence algorithms) to explore the biological relationships among the derived animal-level and pasture-level phenotypes to facilitate forecasting of herd performance.

The perceived benefits of PRECISIONDAIRY technologies include increased efficiency, profitability, improved product quality and sustainability of the Irish dairy industry by facilitating more timely and informed decisions on farm. In the long run, the project will support economic development through the exploitation of research outputs.