Cow Nutrition Management


For the first year holistic demonstrator, the first set of functionalities related with data gathering through several sensors will be integrated and demonstrated in a dairy farm in Finland.

This holistic demonstrator will take place in the farm called Kotipelto. The farmer Mr. Sorvisto is in co-operation and offers his farm to be used for this development. The holistic demonstration will measure crops, manage animal wellness and measure also soil (irrigation, need for fertilising) and it will demonstrate the added value innovations of the AFarCloud project which are mentioned in the Excellence and Impact sections. The grass and soil measurements will be demonstrated also with 6- wheel robot which will be later developed to be a service for the service companies which will in futyúre more and more take the special tasks of the farms as sub-contractors. The ground robot will solve some problems referred to drone and satellite monitoring especially in bad weather conditions (illumination enabled, clouds are not disturbing). Some key elements – like the ground robot soil reporting service – will also be delivered to other holistic demonstrators in Spain and Italy.

In the scenario, a cow nutrition system will be developed. Cow nutrition requires a constant nutrient monitoring because the main food of cows is grass – fresh or silage –. A big number of animals in farms require big amount of forage and thus large cultivation areas for growing grass. The new Total Mixed Ration (TMR) feeding method requires a new level of accuracy in nutrient control. In TMR feeding, all fodder ingredients (silage, cereals, supplement feeds, water etc.) are mixed carefully together. To achieve optimal results, the recipe for the mixing requires accurate awareness of nutrient contents, in which the silage has the biggest deviation. An optimal quality of feeding ensures better milk production with better nutritive content.

The problem arises from many issues. In fact, the maximum nutritional value, especially for grass forage, can be achieved only with exact harvest timing. Thus, there is a clear need for easy solution for the analysis before harvest. Farmers have often problems in getting the information they need of the nutrient balance in field. During growing period, they typically need to make tests of the plants for grass production. The aim is to estimate the optimal timing for cutting the plants as a preparation for the final harvest. Forage analysis is typically made nowadays in laboratory tests that take too long time.

This demonstrator will provide a new solution for real-time cow nutrition monitoring and control. The most essential nutrients of crop to be measured are: (a) dry matter (most essential); (b) protein; (c) fibers (ADF, NDF) and (d) Glucose. All this information should be gathered easily in several spots of the farming activities; as integrated and retrofitted in tractors and farming machinery, as installed in cow house feeding systems, and also as handheld devices and drone solutions to enable monitoring during the whole growing period. This information together with the related metadata such as position should be easily found and exploited in everyday work of farm. Nutrient data will be gathered easily as integrated in normal farming procedures. To achieve full advantage, the installation should cover all incoming feed; the bailers on the field, the silage blowers in the cow house as well as the handheld / station solutions for the monitoring during the growing period. The data from the fields should contain the position information. All information from different farming process phases should be transferred wirelessly as well as easily accessed and analysed via mobile User Interfaces, as depicted in the Livestock Nutrition Management System of Figure 1.4. It is important to understand, that fully comprehensive nutrient management is an ideal setting. In AFarCloud, it depends on the co-operation with third party legacy systems of crop demonstrator sites, how far this target can be reached. Nevertheless, the management of feeding in the whole value chain is a significant challenge in this sub-scenario. The supplement feed producer wants to know better the functionality of their products. While they know well the nutrient content of their products and the results for milk quality are easy to get from milking station, they need to take into account also the variable nutrient content of grass silage, which is cows’ main food, after all.