Internet of things


Digital Dairy Chain

Monday, 25 July 2022

IoT technology is at the heart of the £21M Digital Dairy Chain project which will position the south-west of Scotland and Cumbria as leading regions for future investment in high-tech dairy processing.   

Funded by the UK Research and Innovation’s flagship Strength in Places Fund, and led by Scotland’s Rural College [SRUC] from its Barony campus in Dumfries, the five-year multi-party project will see SRUC and the consortium partners – including CENSIS – focus on developing a fully integrated and traceable dairy supply chain.  

Innovations in IoT technology are helping farmers to track the wellbeing of their herd, improve productivity, give consumers peace of mind and help towards achieving net zero.   

The Digital Dairy programme’s initial focus will be on the use of sensors and data from dairy herds and how it can be utilised to produce more and better dairy products. As part of its contribution to the programme, CENSIS will lead and deliver a multi-year, competitive accelerator programme, designed to help individuals and companies of any size in the region fast track ideas from proof of concept to demonstration and testing.  

Holly Ferguson, Precision Dairying Scientist from Scotland’s Rural College explains,   

“IoT can be used for management of technical aspects like estrus detection, and put the information gathered from sensors together with manually recorded information to see what we can understand about cow welfare.   

The manually recorded information that we collected on farm is called a Qualitative Behavioural analysis [QB]. This is really about looking at the cows and trying to create an understanding of the different behaviours that they are expressing so things like agitation, frustration, calmness, happiness and looking at a whole range of different behaviours, and then relating that back to the sensor information.  

"Going forward, we're looking to collect more data from more sensors, and sensor types. I think the main takeaway from the project now is really showing us basic cow needs. Thinking about their comfort, mattress quality, cubicle size, and remembering that your happy cow is a healthy cow is a productive cow.”   

Holly Ferguson

Precision Dairying Scientist from Scotland’s Rural College

Professor Wayne Powell, Principal and Chief Executive of SRUC, said: “Working with local and national businesses, the Digital Dairy Chain will transform the region’s dairy production systems and establish it as a global leader in advanced, sustainable and high-value dairy manufacturing.  

“It will foster entrepreneurship, create new market opportunities, add new skills to the workforce and lay the foundations for more productive regions, all while making the critical journey towards net zero.”  

Rachael Wakefield, Business Development Manager and Digital Dairy Chain lead at CENSIS said “CENSIS has an excellent track record in delivering innovation support and rapid prototyping of enabling technology demonstrators, so we were the obvious choice to deliver the Digital Dairy Chain accelerator. Our focus will be on delivering connected systems that will help the dairy partners solve challenges, build in digital capability and meet net zero targets.”  

“We look forward to helping establish the region as the UK’s leading place for digitally-connected, enabling technologies supporting value-added milk processing”  

Read more about Digital Dairy Chain being launched - CENSIS