Digital Livestock Farming
As the global human population increases, livestock agriculture must adapt to provide more livestock products and with improved efficiency while also addressing concerns about animal welfare, environmental sustainability, and public health. The purpose of this paper is to critically review the current state of the art in digitalizing animal agriculture with Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) technologies, specifically biometric sensors, big data, and blockchain technology. Biometric sensors include either noninvasive or invasive sensors that monitor an individual animal’s health and behavior in real time, allowing farmers to integrate this data for population-level analyses. Real-time information from biometric sensors is processed and integrated using big data analytics systems that rely on statistical algorithms to sort through large, complex data sets to provide farmers with relevant trending patterns and decision-making tools. Sensors enabled blockchain technology affords secure and guaranteed traceability of animal products from farm to table, a key advantage in monitoring disease outbreaks and preventing related economic losses and food-related health pandemics. Thanks to PLF technologies, livestock agriculture has the potential to address the abovementioned pressing concerns by becoming more transparent and fostering increased consumer trust. However, new PLF technologies are still evolving and core component technologies (such as blockchain) are still in their infancy and insufficiently validated at scale. The next generation of PLF technologies calls for preventive and predictive analytics platforms that can sort through massive amounts of data while accounting for specific variables accurately and accessibly. Issues with data privacy, security, and integration need to be addressed before the deployment of multi-farm shared PLF solutions be- comes commercially feasible. Implications Advanced digitalization technologies can help modern farms optimize economic contribution per animal, reduce the drudgery of repetitive farming tasks, and overcome less effective isolated solutions. There is now a strong cultural emphasis on reducing animal experiments and physical contact with animals in-order-to enhance animal welfare and avoid disease outbreaks. This trend has the potential to fuel more research on the use of novel biometric sensors, big data, and blockchain technology for the mutual benefit of livestock producers, consumers, and the farm animals themselves. Farmers’ autonomy and data-driven farming approaches compared to experience-driven animal manage- ment practices are just several of the multiple barriers that digitalization must overcome before it can become widely implemented.
Keywords: Precision Livestock Farming | digitalization | Digital Technologies in Livestock Systems | sensor technology | big data | blockchain | data models | livestock agriculture