The future of farming is on the cusp of a revolution in technology use and data creation. Soon routine data collection across the agriculture, aquaculture and livestock sectors will provide an almost limitless supply of information on the health and dynamics of our farming systems.

We here at the Delivering Data & Digital Innovation Challenge Centre help farmers and supply chain stakeholders to understand and value useful emerging technologies and their associated data systems. Engaging with these processes can provide incredible insight and enable effective decision making.

The Centre highlights ways in which integrated technological solutions and associated big data have the potential to revolutionise agriculture. We not only look at primary production but also research the significant role the data can play in enhancing the efficiency and sustainability of agri-food systems.

The Delivering Data & Digital Innovation Challenge Centre is led by Mike Coffey, who is a professor of livestock informatics and has a background in genetic and genomic improvement of farmed livestock species.

Agri-food Systems Assessments (FSA)

Meeting the challenge

The aim of our work seeks to demystify technologies and explain the added value of data integration (the process of taking data from many different sources and making it usable). Our mission is to ensure the industry in Scotland doesn’t lag behind others but instead adopts these innovative approaches rapidly wherever applicable. 

By combining data-driven, world-leading research with education, knowledge exchange and consultancy, we help to make working with data as easy and as effective as possible.

Practical application, improved efficiency and cost consideration are at the heart of all that we do. Our commercial and publicly funded research projects have data capture, salvage, use and maintenance, sharing, storage, retention, and disposal costs built in. That allows us to give the full picture when it comes to future-proofing each data capture set-up. Finding the most suitable digital tools is the driving force in the way our Challenge Centre develops.

We are creating a cohesive data policy and will combine this with our ongoing work, creating optimal ways to integrate digital technology, for example sensors, imaging and biomarkers.

Our goal is to help people with their data handling, not to control it. We encourage others to develop digital and data practices while maintaining our own strategic partnership arrangements with like-minded organisations. In doing so we ensure we add value and don’t replicate work happening elsewhere.

The ethics of the digital revolution

Key to our success is the development of a Centre with a collegiate culture and one that supports people to investigate ethical considerations around data and digital innovations. In particular, we investigate mechanisms and frameworks to facilitate a fair distribution of value generated from pooled farm and animal data, and data that is shared across the food chain. By doing this we hope that it will encourage others to share data and extend the reach and quality of the process further.

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