Expertise & research centre in Precision Livestock Farming
HAS University of Applied Sciences has considerable experience in this area: there is an established group focused on precision agriculture, numerous technology projects including in sensor technology in the livestock sector, and in 2016 the 3rd year minor Smart Farming was started. The ERC focusses on the animal sector and specifically the technology and data that play a key role in animal husbandry. The ERC also looks to other industries for inspiration.
Aim of the ERC in Precision Livestock Farming
The aim is to facilitate smarter and more efficient farming (smart farming) and to use data for more precise operational management. By collecting more information about the individual animal, it is easier to prevent illness, reduce the amount of raw materials and antibiotics needed, and to increase the animal’s performance. More and, specifically, better knowledge of the animal’s behaviour and health status can improve its well-being.
Another role for the livestock farmer
The livestock farmer is getting a new role: instead of identifying abnormalities (something that a sensor is often better at and is able to do continuously), the livestock farmer can demonstrate their expertise by making the right decisions based on all the information they receive. This enables more precise management of animals that have something wrong with them. This approach is more efficient and problems are detected much sooner.
Pedometer and IDAs for cows
Pedometers and IDAs (Intelligent Dairy Farmer’s Assistant) are used to monitor a cow’s behaviour and activity. This makes it possible to see when a cow is on heat and can be inseminated. It also highlights if the cow’s behaviour is different to normal so that the livestock farmer can intervene. This not only leads to better production, but to also better livestock well-being.
Cough monitor for pigs
The cough monitor for pigs warns the farmer if too many pigs are coughing. The farmer can then intervene in time, reducing the amount of antibiotics required. This is better for the pig farmer, the consumer and the pigs.
Monitoring in the poultry shed
A camera in the poultry shed registers the activity and distribution of the chicken. It also warns the poultry farmer if there is a sudden change in values. Problems are spotted quickly and the farmer can intervene.
Drones and robots
Drones and robots are being used in more and more sectors, from education to health care, from arable farming to ecology. Cows in a meadow with robots; monitoring wildlife (or poachers!) deploying drones, tracking migratory birds, wild cows or pets with GPS and webcams. The possibilities are endless.
Research at on-the-job training companies Hoeve Boveneind and Pels Dairy Farm
On-the-job training dairy farm, Hoeve Boveneind, in Herwijnen is owned and run by Wilfred de Bruijn. Here, HAS University of Applied Sciences is able to link the cows’ behaviour and activity to their location, using technology from Nedap. This and other data collected on-site offer considerable possibilities for this ERC to carry out practical research. Also, a SmaXtec rumen bolus enables researchers to measure the activity, temperature and pH in the stomachs of some of the cows.
Pels Dairy farm in Empel, the Netherlands
The research conducted by HAS University of Applied Sciences at Pels focusses primarily on mapping out the activity and fitness of cows in meadows. These parameters are measured using IDAs and the Body Condition Score camera from DeLaval. The collaboration started on 13 April 2017, on the first day of pasture grazing.