Dutch “hackers” work to benefit pig farmers

A new app which will enable pig farmers to keep track of their working day and compare it with how others are operating is being tested by researchers at the Swine Innovation Centre (SIC) Sterksel in the Netherlands.

The potential benefit to users, according to SIC, is that it will allow farmers to optimize their workflow, possibly increasing their labour efficiency, all without investing too much time and effort in the “time-tracking” process.

The idea for the app emerged during a recent 36-hour “hack-marathon” at SIC in which “hackers” from different industries worked with the centre’s researchers, pig sector specialists and local pig farmers to find “smart solutions to problems in pig farming”. The programme was led at SIC by Nienke Dirx-Kuijken, who is the centre’s innovations manager.

Questions tackled during the event included “How can I see the actual performance of my business from my office desk?” or “How can pig farmers shorten the distance between them and the consumer?” The search for answers focused looking at both existing data and new digital technologies across wide range of sectors.

The “hacker” group consisted of a mix of Information and communications technology (ICT) specialists, creative engineers, landscape architects and people from the automotive industry, all of whom are legally engaged in remotely connecting systems and data.

“In a very short time they were able to develop and explore new data,” said Ms Dirx-Kuijken (pictured above). “For example, Farmhack.nl, the organiser of the hack-marathon, designed a platform with all available digital technology (for the pig sector) with SIC making 40 years of individual animal data available for the process. That is a lot of information.

“In this case, the word “hacker” was definitely given a completely positive connotation.”

Headline image shows Varkens Innovatie Centrum (VIC) which is the original Dutch name for SIC Sterksel.

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