Background There is increasing demand for livestock products from emerging economies and increasing pressure on livestock systems to improve their efficiency of production and reduce their environmental footprint. Precision livestock farming (PLF) has emerged as a package of technology, process and decision support that can create a substantial step-change in livestock production systems in meeting the challenges and capturing opportunities. PLF is defined as the management of individual livestock by continuous automated real-time monitoring and control of production, health and animal well-being, and environmental impact. With the ongoing development of cost reductions in sensors and their applicability to capturing diverse data, the capacity of innovative agri-tech to continuously and autonomously monitor and measure production, health and well-being of individual animals is expanding. There is a need to understand the economic feasibility of different combinations of technology and to develop ‘smarter’ decision support systems that integrate and analyse streams of data in real-time to provide prescriptive solutions to constraints limiting individual animal and farm profitability.
Project Objectives Dairy cows are the most monitored individual animal in world agriculture and much of the developed technology has been focused on monitoring production and animal health and welfare. There is a need to understand the economics of different combinations of technologies and develop systems for data integration, analysis and visualisation that improve farmer decision making and capture the potential value of technology in dairy production systems. The objectives of this study are to:
- Develop real-time prescriptive decision support systems using sensor, robotic milking and market data, and - Undertake an assessment of the economic feasibility of innovative agri-tech that aims to improve dairy farming profitability.
This project will develop a commercially relevant researcher who would be well suited to working either as a career academic, a public sector/industry researcher, or an agri-tech entrepreneur. Through this project the student will receive training in farm management economics, agricultural systems modelling, programming, statistical analyses and data visualisation, as well as gain experience of the technical challenges in the application of precision livestock technologies to dairy farming systems and on-farm decision making.
The studentship includes tuition, bench and writing up fees and a tax-free stipend at the RCUK rate for 2019/2020 (£15,009 per annum).