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Agriculture 4.0: improving animal welfare through artificial intelligence

The Boxberg education and knowledge center (LSZ) and the University of Hohenheim are developing data collection and analysis methods to improve swine welfare and herd sustainability.

22 October 2019, at 9:05am

There is an immense amount of stored data on the health, productivity and behaviour of the sows, piglets and growing pigs in the units at the Boxberg education and knowledge centre (LSZ) - a treasure that has barely been exploited so far. With the majority of data recorded in Excel spreadsheets, on paper or in specialist applications, much of this content is not stored in an easily shareable or analysable format, thereby reducing the capacity to actually use that data to influence farm strategy.

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Business Informatics researchers from the University of Hohenheim are merging this data into a digital platform as part of the project, Agriculture 4.0: Information System for Pig Farming - thus opening up the data to analysis and machine learning programmes. This will provide new insights into the efficiency of on-farm husbandry methods which will benefit swine welfare and allow advancements in sustainable pig farming. The Ministry of Rural Affairs and Consumer Protection (MLR) is supporting the project under the leadership of LSZ, awarding funding of almost 200,000 euros to the University of Hohenheim.

The project could help to identify stress indicators and eliminate the causes of stress using video surveillance, data collection and machine learning. In addition, all operational standard data from the herd - including slaughter data, unit temperature, feed consumption - are incorporated into the digital platform.

With the increase in consumer concern for the origins and production method of meat, dairy and egg products, the digitisation and transparency of all farm data thus make significant contributions to greater acceptance in society and an improved image for pork production.