The success of a £300,000 “smart pig farming” trial has been celebrated by producers, industry opinion-formers and an independent innovation agency, with the conclusion that the project has delivered a wide range of benefits.
The project was set up 12 months ago to improve the efficiency of UK pig production through precision farming, supported by a 40% grant from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK (IUK).
Large-scale pig farmers commercially trialled the Barn Report Pro system which captures live data provided by sophisticated monitoring equipment installed in piggeries. The aim was to enable important management decisions to be made quickly rather than retrospectively, thus improving management and herd performance.
A consortium led by Dr Sadie Douglas, data services manager for Farmex, the prime mover behind the scheme, has now “demonstrated the commercial viability of the project on a large scale and under a variety of systems and management structures”.
Claimed benefits include reduced water and energy waste, better ventilation and environment control together with vital data to allow improved management. It has also been shown to allow the prediction of the onset of disease outbreaks.
“Agri-Tech Catalyst funding has enabled the trialling of precision farming and management information systems on UK pig farms,” said IUK’s Tom Jenkins. “It is great to see such close engagement with end-users, which is critical to ensure technology is developed to meet the challenges relevant to the farming sector.”
The consortium involved in the project comprised D C & R J Allen & Partners, ARM Buildings Ltd, Farmex Ltd, Garth Pig Practice Ltd, J M Sankey, D A & E M Skinner, Stockcroft Ltd and Yorkwold Pigpro Ltd. Additional support was provided by sub-contractors Primary Diets and Dicam Technology.
Headline image shows ((l to r): Mark Nowell, Dicam Technology; Tom Jenkins, IUK; Tim Miller, ARM Buildings; Sadie Douglas, Farmex; Mike McLaughlin A Proctor Group; Paul Marland ARM Buildings; Hugh Crabtree, Farmex; Danny Skinner, Aberdeenshire pig farmer; Andrew Sankey, Shropshire pig farmer;, Rob Beckett, Yorkshire pig farmer, Kevin Downes, IUK and Ian Wellock, Primary Diets.