Engineering a better farm
CEO Commentary by Mike McMorris
A beef farmer observed recently that the past few years have seen an amazing evolution of technology and automation - in the crops world. He was making the point that the livestock sector was being left behind.
LRIC has recently worked with innovative producers in each sector to survey their challenges and opportunities that could have an “engineering” solution. We are using “engineering” in a broad sense.
We had fantastic response, indicating a real interest and need. Across the various sectors, several areas of focus emerged. These are a just few examples of the ideas from livestock producers.
Automation of tasks and data capture
• Body temperature… early indication of sickness
• Auditory signals… indication of stress
• Bunk face silage dry matter… allows accurate TMR formulation
• Accurate bird count… new issue with aviary systems
Better animal identification
• RFID tags with better quality and range… allows use for management purposes
• Facial recognition… allows more data capture
Quick tests / prediction
• Cow side determination of calcium blood level… better detection and treatment
• Artifical Intelligence to analyze past trends and predict future trend… lessen environmental impact
• New sources (perhaps manure, compost)… reduce cost
• Retention via insulation… reduce cost
• Specific disease identification… earlier detection and specific treatment
• Heat recovery… reduce cost
• Measure ammonia/dust… reduce environmental impact
• Barn design for extreme weather… adapt to climate change impacts
• Better feeders with less waste… reduce cost
• Portable structures to allow more rotational grazing… improved soil health
• Submersible fish net pens… reduced cost due to ice damage
We will be taking these areas for research and innovation to several universities in the coming weeks, hoping to stimulate some new focus on the livestock sector.