SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Dairy Processing & Markets

Trends > Sustainability

University of Wisconsin virtual dairy farm uses AI to improve farm management

Post a comment
Mary Ellen Shoup

By Mary Ellen Shoup+

23-Aug-2017
Last updated on 23-Aug-2017 at 10:12 GMT2017-08-23T10:12:26Z

The multidisciplinary team will use artificial intelligence to more accurately predict the outcome of various management options. Pic: UWMadisonCALS
The multidisciplinary team will use artificial intelligence to more accurately predict the outcome of various management options. Pic: UWMadisonCALS

The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) has started a two-year “virtual dairy farm brain” project that will use artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze data in real time helping dairy farmers improve their management decisions.

“We called this project the ‘virtual dairy farm brain’ because we’re trying to mimic the thinking of a very good dairy farm manager,” team leader, Victor Cabrera, a UW-Madison dairy science professor said.

UW’s multidisciplinary team includes dairy scientists, agricultural economists, and computer scientists who have started aggregating data from 4,000 dairy cows to their campus-based server.

“Dairy farms have embraced a lot of technologies that generate vast amounts of data,” Cabrera said.

“The problem is that farmers haven’t been able to integrate this information to improve whole-farm decision-making.”

AI predicts best management options

The main challenge will be filtering out useful data collected from daily dairy operations, according to Cabrera.

The type of data collected ranges from lbs of milk produced and lbs of feed consumed by dairy cows, how many steps a cow takes, genomic testing results, as well as general farm data such as weather patterns and the price of milk.

“We are collecting a lot of data, but a lot of it is repetitious or not relevant,” Cabrera said. “We need to be able to filter out the noise and attach identifiers to each type of data. To do this in real time is not a trivial thing.”

The UW team will use artificial intelligence to better predict the outcome of various management practices. Computer scientists from the university’s Center for High Throughput Computing are developing algorithms that analyze the dairy farms’ activity, which will be used to predict best management practices.

The final step will be to apply what was learned from the relevant data to create intuitive, cloud-based decision-support tools that allow farmers to use real-time data from their farms to make “smarter” management decisions.

“We think the methodology should apply to any farm. It could be adjusted to suit whatever data are available,” Cabrera said.

“The basic approach would be very similar on a 100-cow farm or an 8,000-cow operation.”

Cabrera added once the two-year project is completed, he hopes to begin a larger study involving 100 to 200 dairy farms representing a variety of sizes and management practices.

Post a comment

Comment title *
Your comment *
Your name *
Your email *

We will not publish your email on the site

I agree to Terms and Conditions

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Key Industry Events

 

Access all events listing

Our events, Shows & Conferences...