MADISON, WI (SPECTRUM NEWS) — With each milking, feeding and sale on a dairy farm comes more data.
Farms are producing massive amounts of data each day. It's financial, medical, genetic or production data that oftentimes runs on different softwares and the information doesn't translate between them.
“Farmers are inundated with data nowadays,” says Victor Cabrera, dairy science professor at UW-Madison.
Cabrera is working on a project called the 'Dairy Brain.' Essentially the project works to get all of the different data streams in one spot to communicate with each other in real time and help farmers guide business decisions.
“In order to connect it's not always an easy or trivial thing, mostly because we want to connect this as the data are being collected,” Cabrera says. “The challenge here is to put altogether continuously.”
It's a challenge Cabrera and multiple departments at the university have been working on for years.
Now their work is broadening.
The United States Department of Agriculture has given the project one million dollars in grant money to improve data efficiency on farms.
“It is being seen as something that needs to be developed. So these competitive grants not only give you the money, they give you the support,” Cabrera says.
Armed with that support the project is searching for more voices to address problems with data collection in farming.
They made a Coordinated Innovation Network (CIN) to have an international forum of industry stakeholders on how farm data can be used more efficiently.
“Start a community wide, industry wide, discussion, what should be the best way to continue,” Cabrera says.
In Wisconsin, UW-Extension educators like Liz Binversie in Brown County have been working on getting farms involved in their areas.
“We have local farmers that have been interested and have been creating data management goals,” Binversie says.
All farms who want data to help them reach financial, herd or production goals.
“The farm identifying their individual goals, where they want to be headed and then trying to use the data to help support that and get them along the way,” Binversie says.
The Dairy Brain project is actively expanding and searching for farms to be part of its forum, the CIN, or to plug their data into the dairy brain.
While now it's collecting voices the hope is those voices can lead to a better system for all farms.
“We want to lead a discussion, a wide discussion, U.S., worldwide,” Cabrera said.