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Dairy

Supporting the many dairy herds around the UK, Agri-EPI explores and delivers precision farming engineering, technology and innovation in UK agriculture. Seeking to improve yield, efficiency and the welfare and wellbeing of our milking herds; collaborating and promoting novel technology and husbandry in partnership with farmers, scientists and retailers.

International Rural Conference delegation visits Parkend Farm

As part of the OECD Rural Development Conference earlier this year, Agri-EPI Centre’s Satellite Farmer Brian Wetherup of Parkend Farm hosted a widespread international delegation to showcase Scottish rural innovation. The attendees represented various international organisations and governments: South Korea, Romania, Belgium, Hungary, Netherlands, France and Germany to name a few. The rural field trip was initiated by Scottish Enterprise and included a tour around the facilities and provided further insights into robotic milking.

OECD Rural Development Conference

The 11th OECD Rural Development Conference brought together leading policy makers, private sector and renowned experts to exchange experiences and good practices on issues related to innovation in rural areas, including the development of policies to benefit from the 10 key drivers of rural change, and making the most of opportunities for job creation, economic growth, and service delivery. Read the full report about the Conference on the Scottish Rural Network website.

Partners

Organised by the OECD, the Conference is hosted by the Scottish Government, European Commission and the UK Government in close co-operation with Highlands and Islands Enterprise & Scottish Enterprise and the European Network for Rural Development.

© Photography: Sandy Young Photography

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Precision agriculture technology opportunities in New Zealand

Innovate UK awarded Agri-EPI Centre funding to explore precision farming technology opportunities in New Zealand. Although in terms of economic performance New Zealand dairy and beef sectors are world leading, uptake of precision farming technology has been limited, especially in comparison with European countries such as France and The Netherlands.

New Zealand partner

Earlier this year, the Agri-EPI Centre team has met up with local partner Massey University. Researchers at Massey University are leading a large project to understand the variation in productivity, efficiency and environment impact across New Zealand Dairy and Beef Farms. Through Innovate UK funding Agri-EPI Centre is supporting this research by installing automated measurement technologies developed in the UK. This will involve the installation of 3D camera technology to remotely monitor the growth and carcass quality of beef animals, alongside collar-mounted sensors to monitor the activity, eating and rumination behaviours of both beef and dairy animals. The data collected from this project will give UK companies a chance to develop their products for a new market.

For more information about precision agriculture opportunities in New Zealand, please contact Agri-EPI Centre Technical Team via enquiries@agri-epicentre.com.

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Keep up to date with the latest impact and results of our work, plus, news, innovation and approaches across the sector. Read our latest news and Agri-EPI blogs.

Sensor technology at Dairy Parkend Farm the new norm

Sensors that make sense: from farming to water control

Dairy farming has been a family affair at Parkend Farm in Scotland for three generations. But keeping an eye on the cows has never been easier. On his smartphone, Brian Weatherup receives automatic emails from the farm’s computer system, that alert him of any changes in the cows’ health or fertility status. The data is collected by collars the animals wear around their neck.

Collars for cows

“The collar indicates that there’s been a drop in a cow’s average eating time or average rumination time or average activity. And any one of these factors could be a primary indicator that the cow is either sick or just starting to get sick, and the key factor in these collars is that they can pick up these problems before they become very serious,” Brian explains.

When the animal eats, its neck muscles move – the movement is captured by the collars’ sensors, and wirelessly collected and processed. The collar’s developers are planning to add location tracking, which would be particularly valuable for free-grazing cows.

Milking cows: a robot’s affair

Milking robots measure the volume and composition of the milk produced by each cow. Farmers use this data to boost productivity and improve the well-being of their animals. These and other smart innovations are being studied at farms across Britain as part of an EU-funded research project aimed at making agriculture more sustainable and more efficient.

Ivan Andonovic is a researcher in communication systems at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, which is a partner of the project.

“What’s happened with the technological evolution over the last ten years is that processing power has become cheaper, the energy spent in processing has dropped, and the functionality – the form factor, the shape, the size of it – is much more manageable. It’s only under those criteria that you can use technology to create an economic solution for the farming sector,” he says.

According to Freddie Reed, project manager and part of the Agri-EPI Farm Network Team:

“The first stage of it is to find the extent of issues, collect the data over the farms, so we know what’s going on on the farm, then we can identify the causes of inefficiencies on the farm, and once we know the causes we can find the problems to solve those solutions.”

Brian says that in the six months since he adopted the new technology, production has increased by one fifth and his animals’ health has improved, too. Researchers see even greater potential in integrating sensor data along the production chain, by developing a common standard for data exchange.

“The way we can have a real impact and make life even easier for Brian and his colleagues in this sector is to create a consistent and coherent database which takes both the data coming in, the collar system, and the output, the robot system, and then match input to output, says researcher Ivan Andonovic.

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Source: this is a synopsis of an article that has been published on Euro News on 6 November 2017. Read the full article.

Stay informed

Keep up to date with the latest impact and results of our work, plus, news, innovation and approaches across the sector. Read our latest news and Agri-EPI blogs.

Work starts on new high-tech Precision Dairy Farm

Ground has been broken on the Harper Adams University farm, signalling the start of building work to create a new high-tech dairy unit.

The £750,000 facility, which will operate alongside Harper Adams’ existing research dairy unit, will serve the Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation (Agri-EPI) Centre, which received £17.7 million investment under the Government’s Agri-tech Strategy to help the UK’s agri-food sector develop advanced technologies that will increase productivity and sustainability in UK agriculture.

The Centre will have hubs in Edinburgh, Harper Adams University (the Agri-Innovation Hub, already under construction) and Cranfield University, but will also be served by a series of farms and processing facilities equipped with the latest sensing and imaging equipment – including the new precision dairy unit at Harper Adams.

The new dairy will be one of three such units within Agri-EPI, with the South West Dairy Development Centre in Somerset which is operated by Kingshay and a calf research facility in conjunction with SRUC in Dumfries involved in establishing the others.

Professor of Applied Animal Behaviour, Mark Rutter, explained:

“The new dairy facilities within Agri-EPI will enable scientists, the dairy industry and agri-engineering companies to work together to develop the next generation of dairy housing and management.

A key concept will be developing technology that facilitates cow choice, as research has shown that this can improve milk production efficiency as well as improving animal welfare.”

The Agri-EPI Centre is a consortium of key organisations in the field of precision agriculture and engineering. It brings together expertise in research and industry, as well as data gathering capacity in all areas of farming, to increase the efficiency and sustainability of the land-based industries.

By uniting organisations in all sections of the supply chain – 76 companies and institutions in all – it will become a world-leading centre for excellence in engineering and precision agriculture for the livestock, arable, aquaculture and horticulture sectors.

The new building is costing nearly £520,000 to construct, with the project total reaching £750,000 once equipment and other associated works are taken into account.

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Source: this article has been published on the Harper Adams University website