The power of farming data cannot be underestimated. It provides farmers with essential insights to help them manage their land and their animals more effectively – whether indicating which crops need more or less nutrients or pinpointing when their cows have reached peak fertility. Today that information is presented on a screen, but in the future farmers will be able to interact with the data in a much more intuitive way.
One farmer for whom data is paying dividends is Dutch dairy farmer Jan-Roelef Jalvingh, a speaker at the recent Global Future Farming Summit at Wageningen University (in the Netherlands). He expounded on how technology and data are helping him monitor the fertility and general health of his youngstock and dairy herd, all through his smartphone.
Thanks to an artificial intelligence system called IDA (Intelligent Dairy Farmer’s Assistant), Mr. Jalvingh has access to information that helps him inseminate his youngstock, particularly his heifers, at the optimal time. It can be challenging to spot when a heifer is in heat, he explained. In the past, he typically used the weight of the heifer as a guide to their fertility, which meant that he started the insemination process when the animals were around 15 months old. Technology, however, helps him detect ‘in-heat’ behaviour with much greater accuracy, so in some cases he can start insemination around three months earlier. Ultimately, this allows him to transfer the heifers to revenue-generating dairy cows much sooner. The same technology enables Mr. Jalvingh to detect health problems in his herd and address them before they escalate.
Looking to the future, the technology dairy farmers like Mr. Jalvingh rely on today will likely become even more advanced, providing the right information, in the right place, at the right time with unprecedented convenience. That is the vision of Nedap, as outlined by the company’s Innovation Manager, Roxie Muller. Mr. Muller gave a glimpse into what he says is only “an iteration away”, with a demo of augmented reality cow monitoring and management application CowControl.
Using mixed-reality goggles, farmers can access reproduction intelligence, health information and the location of individual cows with a simple hand gesture or voice command. The information they require is shown above the cows, within their actual field of view – almost like a virtual dashboard. The view automatically adapts to the farmer’s location in the barn and responds to the direction in which he or she looks, for a truly seamless experience. Farmers will be able to input data just as intuitively – and even pull in information from other systems. This, says Mr. Muller, is “technology that thinks with you – sharing relevant insights at the right time, just like a human personal assistant would.”
As futuristic as it sounds, the technology exists today and, according to Nedap, will soon be farm-ready, taking herd insights from the screen and into the barn.
See CowControl in action, here.