Precision farming in crop and livestock production

Photo: ATB

Kickoff for DigiMuh

Lying cow panting under heat stress (Photo: Hoffmann/ATB)

Heat stress (Photo: Hoffmann/ATB)

At the launch of the project "DigiMuh - Prevention of heat stress by individualized means and means of genetic selection in dairy farming" the partners met in a virtual meeting on 26 March to discuss next steps. 

Dairy cows suffer considerably from the increasingly occurring heat phenomena. In the DigiMuh project, methods to prevent heat stress in dairy farming by means of digitization are to be developed. Today, various digital applications already provide numerous barn- and animal-specific data. In order to make better use of this information pool from the current "isolated solutions", this data is to be merged in the form of a flexible, application-oriented decision support system for farmers. 

To realise this, the project is developing a comprehensive sensor and data network with a data and evaluation platform (edge computing). In the future, farmers will receive alerts regarding the current stress status of their animals via an app on their smartphone or PC. The system will also provide livestock farmers with recommendations for countermeasures to be taken and also for preventive measures in the sense of integrated health monitoring. 

For the data collection and the implementation of the subsequent practical measurements, a test herd of 1000 cows will be equipped with sensor systems (e.g. respiratory sensors, barn climate sensors). All available on-farm individual animal data and genotype information will be collected. The collected raw data is analysed, processed, compressed and is then interpreted using methods of data science. In addition to the early prediction of heat stress, models will also be developed that will assess for individual animals the risk for the occurrence of certain diseases on the basis of the sensor data.

This is intended to benefit animal welfare and animal health. Another long-term goal is the sustainable improvement of heat stress tolerance by breeding. Comprehensive phenotypic and genotypic data can provide the basis for this. Improved health management should also help to extend the lifespan for cows, reduce veterinary costs and, thus, relieve the financial pressure on livestock farmers.

Results from the DigiMuh project will be integrated into ongoing research projects, such as the EraNet projects MilKey and MELS coordinated by the ATB and the EU project RES4LIVE

The project "DigiMuh - Prevention of heat stress by individualized means and means of genetic selection in dairy farming" is being funded over a period of three years by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) with a total of EUR 1.2 million. Partners from science, industry and practice are cooperating in the project:: Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, smaXtec GmbH Ainring, Wille Engineering Kaiserslautern, Dr. Hornecker Software-Entwicklung & IT-Dienstleistungen Freiburg, and Förderverein Bioökonomieforschung e.V. Bonn. Coordinator is the Leibniz-Institut für Agrartechnik und Bioökonomie e.V.

Contact ATB: Dr. Gundula Hoffmann