Artificial Intelligence farming project from Harper Adams University

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A Shropshire project using artificial intelligence to monitor dairy cows has featured in a focus on the future of farming on BBC One’s Countryfile.

Mark with Adam Henson
Mark with Adam Henson

Harper Adam University’s Professor of Applied Animal Behaviour, Mark Rutter, spoke to presenter Adam Henson about the research and its potential applications on Sunday’s show.

He said: “Rather than having individual sensors on cows, so we can detect when they are in oestrus or monitor their health, a different approach is that we can have all these cameras, giving us a great top-down view of the cows.

“The cameras are using artificial intelligence and machine vision, so we can identify individual cows, we can also look at their behaviours and work out exactly what they are doing.

The project is a collaboration between both Harper Adams University and the University of Nottingham, as well as experts at Stirling-based electronics and automation engineering consultancy and research incubator Peacock Technology.

Using the latest artificial intelligence, computer and machine-vision and data-driven biology, the project team, including Professor Rutter, are automatically monitoring cow health in commercial dairies, such as the Harper Adams University Smart Dairy.

Presenter Adam said: “AI learns to recognise each individual cow and logs their behaviour such as their eating and their milking efficiency.

“It can then analyse the data, to warn of possible signs of illness.”

Professor Rutter continued: “It’s really taking off. The last four or five years, we’re seeing large amounts of data on farm, and again, it really is helping to improve the efficiency of production, it’s improving animal welfare – so we are seeing all these benefits, and farmers really are starting to come on board. This is the future of farming.”