Interview Series: Roald Sand from TFoU

In this edition of our interview series, we catch up with Roald Sand from TFoU (Trøndelag Forskning og Utvikling) to learn more about the Pilot Cluster 4 and the pilots running under this cluster. Cluster 4 focuses on supporting farmers for livestock animal health and high-quality production of animal products using farmers’ dashboards with AI-based prediction and decision support for animal health and animal products.

View the video here

And the text is available below:

  • Can you tell us a bit about your organization and your involvement in the DEMETER project?

Our organization has the Norwegian name Trøndelag Forskning og Utvikling, the shortname TFoU or the English name Trondelag Research & Development Institute. We are a small institute with 17 employees focused on research in economics and social sciences. Our research group is co-located with agri- and bioeconomic actors within education (Nord University), biological research (NIBIO), business developers and many important agricultural organizations in the region and Norway.

In our region, dairy production and agriculture is very important. Therefore, we have worked with many aspects about this production, and their use of technology the last years. In addition, we have worked with innovation analyses, including market barriers, and costs/benefit analyses at the user and society level for many years, so we have such research activities as the main part of our research in the DEMETER project, with resources also in WP6 and 7.

For the moment we work with a process with being a part of SINTEF, the largest Norwegian research institute with about 2000 employees and also a partner in DEMETER.

  • Can you give an overview of the pilot cluster you are involved in and the various pilot projects within it?

This cluster focuses on supporting farmers for livestock animal health and high quality in the production of animal products, using farmers dashboards, AI-based prediction and other decision support systems for farmers.

There are four pilots in the cluster. Three pilots are milk cow oriented, the last one focuses on chicken and poultry production.

One of them, pilot 4.1, focuses on developing a new dashboard that simplifies the digital workday for farmers and also AI Machine learning for predictive milk production, one important part of a new dashboard for dairy farmers. Our organization is working together with SINTEF and the Norwegian companies Mimoro and Landbrukets Dataflyt (Agricultural Dataflow in English), in this pilot, the Norwegian pilot you might say.  Pilot farmers are not directly involved in the pilot. Instead, we use a very rich existing data flow in Norway, and try to standardize and analyze this data, in addition to separate activities as interviews and surveys to farmers and other stakeholders.

Two pilots focus on milk quality and animal welfare tracking through health and welfare recording protocols which will be applied using various sensor technologies and digitalised records.

Pilot 4.2 is here focusing on consumer awareness and tracking information in the milk value. Partners involved are Maccarese, the largest Italian dairy farm, Latte Sano, a company that distributes and refines milk to different products, Coldiretti, a large agricultural organisation and the technology providers in Engeenring and RoTechnology.  Devices are installed at the farm, to allow automatic milk composition analysis and to guarantee the traceability of milk collected. Deployed solutions will adopt standards protocols and DEMETER data formats to enable interoperability.

Pilot 4.3 has the name Proactive Milk quality control. Partners involved are Teagasc, Tyndall, TSSG, Zoetis and Intrasoft, as well as dairy farms in Ireland where different sensors are installed and collect data about animal behaviour and milk quality. The data will be sent to the DEMETER cloud, and integrated there, at the same time as prediction models will be developed with use of this data.

Pilot 4.4 is focusing on chicken health and optimal production, where we are creating a transparent supply chain where information will be shared about animal welfare and resources used during production. Partners involved are DNET, ITC and Agroprotekt Sinkovic , as well as 10 poultry farms in 4 countries: Serbia, Slovenia, Montenegro and Georgia.  Installed devices on the farms collect data, that are later processed and analysed on the DEMETER cloud to provide real-time alerts and instructions to farmers. The deployed solution is improved and extended using DEMETER defined APIs and data formats to enable interoperability with other DEMETER components, services as well as 3rd party systems.

  • Can you tell us in more detail about your pilot?

The Norwegian pilot is very interesting because of the many stakeholders involved, not only dairy farmers but also related businesses and organizations, and that we can contribute with research on costs, benefits and market barriers about upcoming digital solutions for farmers. One part of the Norwegian pilot is the milk prediction model, that is important for many farmers, but the main part is the farmers dashboard that focus on effective data flow for farmers. Using developed APIs and standards in DEMETER, there is now activity to integrate data from 3rd party systems, such as John Deere, and we hope to have test version during the spring.

  • Finally, what are the expected outcomes of the pilot projects in your cluster?

The main expected outcomes for farmers, is of course better digital solutions and better and lower production costs, better product quality and improved animal welfare. Involved partners will of course have greater benefits, sitting on the developed knowledge, but we also expect learning from each other and better systems for farmers and other stakeholders in Europe. Here I expect that pilots in the Cluster 4 will contribute to the DEMETER project focusing on effective dataflow, interoperability systems and how standards can be created that makes it easier to develop solutions that no-one has plans of today.