Farm data integration – key to cattle management success



We are a dedicated group of researchers from Germany, Belgium and Switzerland with a particular interest in precision livestock farming and animal welfare.


Prof. Dr. Edna Hillmann, Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany.

Dr. Kerstin Barth, Thünen Institute, Germany.

Dr. Stephanie van Weyenberg, ILVO, Belgium.

Dr. Christina Umstätter, Agroscoe, Switzerland

Dr. Marianne Cockburn, Agroscope, Switzerland.



Today, behaviour and performance of farm animals are recorded in manifold ways, often directly at the animal. The concatenation and intelligent interpretation of this data can support the farm management.

Background and Objective

Today, farm management information system (FMIS) for dairy cattle exist, aiming to combine all available farm data. In practice, those commercial FMIS are often brand specific, which makes it difficult to integrate sensors from other brands contributing to the vender lock-in. Other commercial FMIS are more generic and connections between automatic milking systems (AMS) and other devices with executive functions are possible. However, integration of new developed techniques or sensors remains challenging. Yet, providing one generic data platform would have a lot of advantages - first of all for technology providers. They can use the data to build new algorithms and applications whether or not in combination with new developed sensors. Farmers will benefit from these new applications and will have the freedom to choose the most appropriate sensor, irrespectively from their milking system brand. This will enhance the implementation of new technology. The aim of this project is to demonstrate the advantages of a generic data platform. By means of case studies,we will showcase how existing sensor prototypes can be combined with additional on farm (sensor) data, to build new applications and improve decision support systems.


The project will start from an existing SQL-based database system, developed by the Belgian partner, integrating all data streams available in the ILVO dairy research barn. The first step in this proposal is extending this database with project specific sensor data. These data streams are (A) 3rd party applications already available at the dairy farm at Agroscope (Switzerland) and at Thünen Institute (Germany), (B) commercial FMIS available at the research farms at Agroscope (Switzerland) and at Thünen Institute (Germany), (C) new sensor or technology data coming from the dairy research farms at ILVO (Belgium), Agroscope (Switzerland) and Thünen Institute (Germany), and (D) new sensor or technology data coming from the beef cattle research farm at ILVO (Belgium). Based on these data existing algorithms will be further developed. The validation of the new models will then be done again on the research stations. Besides scientific publications, specific workshops are planned to transfer the gained knowledge into agricultural practice. At the end, there will be a user-friendly application to support farmers’ grazing management and monitoring of animal welfare.


9.2018 - 8.2021

Projekt type:
Project funding number: 2817ERA13H
Funding program: EU – ERA-NET ICT- Agri

Project status: ongoing



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