Kick-Off: Project D4Dairy started

BIOMIN Project partners

  • Austrian Competence Center for Feed and Food Quality, Safety and Innovation (FFOQSI GmbH)
  • University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Vetmeduni) / Institute of Animal Nutrition and Functional Plant Components
  • LKV Austria Qualitätsmanagement GmbH - Federal Recording Association 

With the approval of the D4Dairy project by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) via the Austrian competence center programme COMET (Competence Centers for Excellent Technologies) on 13 June 2018, no stone remains unturned in Austrian cattle breeding. This project found its way into the final selection under enormous competition from a further 20 project proposals. The project title itself stands for the 4 D´s: Digitalisation, Data integration, Detection and Decision support in Dairying. In order to guarantee a successful project start, the official Kick-Off took place in the banquet hall of the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna with almost all 31 business and 13 scientific partners. 

Digitalisation in agriculture is a rapidly growing field. But digitalisation also means an enormous accumulation of data. In order to be able to use this information for the benefit of farmers, veterinarians, consultants, processors and other partners along the milk value chain, D4Dairy's main objective is to link data and know-how from company and scientific partners. Using state-of-the-art data analysis methods (BigData, Mid-Infra-Red Spectra, etc.), new insights into the practical benefits for farmers and partners along the dairy value chain will be explored.

Progress through networking

The leader of the consortium, Dr. Christa Egger-Danner, is convinced that this network of different expertise (veterinary medicine, genetics, technical informatics, sensor technology, complexity research, food safety, processing,...) and an extensive data basis of the partners, which will be made available for the D4Dairy project, provide the basis that this project will strengthen dairy farms as well as the involved company partners and the business location as a whole. 

The keynote speeches held by distinguished scientists involved in D4Dairy have shown how the rapid technological developments will change agriculture and how D4Dairy can harness these opportunities for the benefit of farmers and the industry as a whole.

Prof. Dr. Kay Römer from the Technical University of Graz showed how the Internet of Things is related to the Internet of Cows. Prof. Dr. Peter Klimek from the Complexity Science Hub and the Medical University of Vienna highlighted the potential of applying new BigData methods to this extensive data set of the cattle industry for the early detection of diseases and development of preventive models. Prof. Dr. Martin Wagner from Vetmeduni Vienna illustrated the potential of the technological developments in analytical methods (Omnics revolution) for the cattle and food industry. Prof. Dr. Johann Sölkner (BOKU) used the example of genomic selection to illustrate the rapid upheaval that has been triggered in cattle breeding over the last 10 years by a technological leap and the resulting low genotyping costs. The new opportunities that arise with digitalisation - will bring about profound changes in the cattle industry - and this is exactly where D4Dairy wants to start - these new opportunities and challenges should be used for the benefit of dairy farms.

A good foundation for a successful project work

The rector of the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna Dr. Petra Winter warmly welcomed the D4Dairy project team. "VetMedUni Vienna was deliberately chosen as the venue for the kick-off, because from the very beginning it was closely linked to the development of this project," said consortium leader Dr. Christa Egger-Danner (ZuchtData). Nearly all 44 project partners accepted the invitation to the kick-off event at the VetMedUni Vienna, where Egger-Danner was able to welcome the most widely travelled project partner from Israel of SCR by Allflex on behalf of all those present.

In his statement, ZAR chairman Stefan Lindner regards cooperation as very important not only within this network, but also beyond the project partners. With 5.5 million euros, half of which came from the company partners, the consortium management was able to set up a powerful project sum in order to provide as many answers as possible to numerous questions. "In this context I would like to express my thanks to the former ZAR chairman Anton Wagner for the foundation he left to his successors. And thanks go to all the project partners and above all to the project team, which managed to bundle the large number of partners for a joint project that ultimately benefits the farmer," says Lindner.

Added value through data integration and exchange

The aim of the project is to collect the enormous amounts of different data on dairy farms and along the value chain, to exchange them with each other, taking data protection into account, and to explore synergies for joint use. Complex analyses will provide new and comprehensive information on animal health and welfare as well as new parameters for the early detection of diseases. Ultimately, the data will be analysed and made available to the farmer using practicable software tools. The Vienna Complexity Science Hub (CSH) is in demand for such data volumes in order to generate benefits from the extensive information in the sense of "n = all".  

Partners in D4Dairy are domestic and foreign universities, competence centers, research institutions and companies along the milk value chain (farmers, breeding organisations, milk processors, animal health services, interest groups, etc.) as well as national and international technology providers (sensors, feeding, housing climate measurement, data processing).

The 4D concept in detail

Digitalisation: Optimisation of dairy industry production processes along the value chain with the exploitation of new digital possibilities.

Data integration: Integration of farm data (central cattle database system (RDV), sensors, feeding, housing climate etc.) and further integration of external data (e.g., slaughter data) with the aim of developing meaningful herd management tools for prevention and production control, quality assurance and workload reduction.

Detection: The application of new statistical approaches (big data analyses), novel devices (sensors, automatic feeding system) and detection methods (infrared spectra of milk, resistance analyses) enables risk factors and informative parameters to be investigated and derived for early detection of diseases and/or proper treatment.

Decision support: Data-based decision-support tools are developed, e.g., whether or not an animal should be dried off with antibiotics. Data on the pathogen status at the farm, disease history of the animal, environmental factors etc. are processed electronically and a proposal—e.g., for veterinarians—is prepared.