Advisory committee convened to help guide “virtual dairy farm brain” project

The UW2020-funded “Virtual Dairy Farm Brain” project held its first Advisory Committee meeting on January, 19 at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. The big-picture goal of the project is no small feat: to develop a way to collect and integrate all of a farm’s various data streams in real time and then use artificial intelligence to analyze those data to help farmers make better management decisions.

Twenty-seven people attended the inaugural Advisory Committee meeting in person, with an additional eight joining virtually. Attendees included project staff, participant farmers and industry representatives who work in big data dairy farm analytics. Participants were from Israel, Canada, Minnesota, California, Michigan, Missouri and around the state of Wisconsin.

The purpose of the meeting was to share initial progress on the project, which started in July 2017, and collect feedback for how to move forward and improve performance.

“The project team thought it would extremely helpful and relevant to have an Advisory Committee to validate the project’s good progress and help guide future developments,” says dairy science professor Victor Cabrera, principal investigator of the project. “We want the project’s outcomes to not only be scientifically sound and innovative, but also practical and directly applicable to the needs of the industry, which we hope to achieve by gathering input directly from the practitioners on the Advisory Committee.”

The meeting was highly participative, notes Cabrera, with attendees actively discussing specific challenges and potential solutions in the areas of data collection, data analytics, and the development of decision support tools. In each of these areas, the project team now has a list of priorities that will guide continued advancement.

A second Advisory Committee meeting will take place in about six months.