Identifying best sensor technologies to deliver verifiable health & welfare, environment and processing quality benefits for dairy production.
Dairy production and processing are key industries for many rural areas in western Britain, converting human inedible feeds into valuable components of healthy varied diets and contributing to the sustainability of rural communities. Dairy production has the lowest carbon footprint of all of the ruminant production systems that can utilise the UK’s grasslands for food production and so we focus on improving technical efficiency in dairy production and processing.
This project addresses some of the key concerns of consumers and retailers of milk and dairy products, who need to be reassured about the environmental footprint and animal welfare standards of dairy production systems.
It will develop new tools to provide consumers, retailers and processors with verifiable information about the environmental footprint and animal welfare standards in dairy production systems.
We will use monitoring technologies, including environmental sensors, animal-mounted sensors and camera technologies that are already being used by farmers to manage technical aspects of their systems, such as feeding and fertility.
By relating this information to manually recorded information, using advanced machine learning techniques, we will be able to develop new algorithms to provide indexes of environmental emissions and cow welfare in ways that are both easier, cheaper and more reliable.
Our objective is to identify predictors of a few key common indicators for both environment and welfare aspects that can contribute to accepted farm assurance standards and reassure consumers.
We will work with progressive dairy farms across the main UK dairying regions to ensure that relationships are robust and to provide a platform for demonstration and extension to other farmers.
After Brexit, the UK may have new opportunities to export or replace imports of high-value dairy products; development of such products is built on a solid foundation of verifiable quality in aspects such as environmental footprint and cow welfare.