Smart farming to feed the world
The world’s population is growing and global demand for meat and animal products is set to increase 40 percent over the next decade. China is the second largest poultry producer in the world, but a lack of space for new agricultural land, climate change, disease outbreaks and other challenges all threaten global food supply.
An innovative and user-friendly ‘internet of things’ platform developed by this team of UK-China researchers could significantly improve and increase productivity of livestock farming for more sustainable food production. Drawing from a wide range of expertise, the team has developed an affordable device that can be worn by farmers to monitor animal welfare and the barn environment.
Using artificial intelligence, the device monitors environmental factors such as temperature, noise and air pollution so farmers can quickly detect problems and prevent losses. Some farmers involved in the trials have already seen a reduction in feed cost and mortality in their poultry farms as a result of the technology.
The platform is capable of capturing large quantities of data which farmers, industry and governments can use to identify the source of pollution and disease outbreaks and plan preventative measures in ‘at risk’ areas. Healthier, happier hens will also lead to better quality meat that is free from disease, protecting public health and improving nutrition.
Through the project, thirty new jobs have already been created and ten young researchers and more than thirty farmers have been trained in smart farming technologies. Training allows Chinese smallholders to compete against larger operations, improving their livelihoods. Having built strong partnerships, the team is now planning to develop the technology and extend its impact to neighbouring developing countries and other meat markets.
We strongly believe that our solution could have a huge impact on the future of livestock farming, delivering socio-economic and environmental benefits as well as being vital for long term natural resource sustainability.
Dr Yue Gao, Farm AI project lead, Queen Mary’s University of London’s School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science
LIVEQuest: A self-contained wearable internet-of-things system for precision livestock agriculture
Project leads: Dr Yue Gao, Queen Mary University of London, UK and Professor Zhixun Xie, Guangxi Veterinary Research Institute, China
Delivery partners: Innovate UK, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, all part of UK Research and Innovation, and Ministry of Science and Technology, China