Connecterra, a Dutch sensor hardware and machine learning firm based in Amsterdam, Netherland, has used motion sensors and AI tools with the aim of studying cow’s behavior. The company’s “The Intelligent Dairy Farmer’s Assistant” is now in the US following effective deployment in European countries for many years.
An AI program to monitor bovine activity
The AI program works on data collected from motion sensors fixed on the animal’s neck to study its activity. The inputs, when associated repetitively with practical data about the cow’s behavior, allows the Intelligent Dairy Farmer’s Assistant to tell from just data about the needs of the animal. Using such data, it will be easy to tell when a cow has become sick or is ready for mating. This will allow the farmer to make informed decisions regarding the cows.
One of the first users of the AI-based program, Richard Watson says he can now perk up productivity as much as ten percent, as he can know which cows in his herd need attention.
Apart from Dairy farming, AI is also used in a variety of fields like reporting, manufacturing and autonomous vehicles. In agriculture, AI is used to study crop health based on drone footage.
Yasir Khokhar, an ex-Microsoft worker and founder and CEO of Connecterra, said the motivation for “The Intelligent Dairy Farmer’s Assistant” sprung up from staying at a cattle farm near Amsterdam. He also pointed out that the technology farmers are now using is very much obsolete.
A variety of AI applications
IDA is based on Google’s open source machine learning framework TensorFlow, which has been a key player in many AI applications. It’s an algorithm that is put up over the popular Python code that allows sending data from sensors to neural networks, thus facilitating machine learning.
According to Google representative Justin Burr, TensorFlow, which was used to discover new planets by analyzing data from Kepler mission, can also assist indigenous tribes in detecting Amazon deforestation.
Google just wants people to customize the open source code so that it can be used for a wide range of applications. The search engine giant has meanwhile joined other tech firms in the race for AI supremacy. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has even stated that AI is one of the most key things the world is currently working on.
Is AI the right answer?
Mary Mackinson Faber, a farmer at the Mackinson Dairy Farm, says Irish cows and herd management software Moocall sends her a message when a cow is set for labor. This allows her to make preparations in advance and see that everything goes smoothly. Actually, Moocall is not working on AI — it just sends signals when the spinal contractions in the cow’s tail exceed a certain limit. Although Mary Mackinson Faber considers it a very useful application, she has pointed out that only human insight can help in taking the right decision for the cows. She feels that there are only “certain tasks” that the technology can help with, and it can never ever take the place of human beings.