Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

Module 5: Current Research & Future Tech

Discover how data can help you achieve your individual goals, overcome obstacles to using data and technology, combine knowledge, and explore the future of farming.

Drone shot of a high tech farm

Data for the future of farming

The agricultural industry is quickly evolving, creating an opportunity to combine digital data with traditional farming practices. This module will explore the future of farming, and the ways in which individual and collective use of data can contribute to environmental and economic sustainability in a rapidly changing world. 

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module you will be able to:

  • Appreciate how data can be used in every farm or livestock system, regardless of animal species, location, management approach, or level of financial investment
  • Understand ways to overcome the various barriers to the use of data in livestock systems
  • Explain how the agricultural industry as a whole can benefit from "good data"
  • Understand how the ongoing development of advanced technologies can contribute to improved farmed animal welfare

Overcoming barriers to data use

Though the use of data by farmers and others in the livestock sector comes with many benefits, it is important to acknowledge the barriers to its use. In the following video, our experts discuss reasons why people may hesitate to integrate data into their farming systems, as well as practical solutions to overcoming these challenges. 

Video: Module 5: What are the barriers with data? And how can you overcome them?
Interviews for 'The Power of Data in Farm Animal Practice' Course

Customised data for individual needs

Case study: Sm@RT tech- Solutions based on need

Every farm, and every farmer, is unique. Therefore, the ways in which people incorporate data into their farming system needs to be individualised to their needs. Dr Claire Morgan-Davies discusses Sm@RT Tech, an EU-funded project that aims to help farmers identify their unique needs, matching them with the data and technology that will be most useful to them.

Find out more about the Sm@RT project

Video: Module 5 Discussion: Weigh data for the future
by Claire Morgan-Davies | SRUC Hills and Mountain Research Centre DataLab 'The Power of Data' Course

Data for farm vets

Data is not only important to farmers. Other livestock professionals, such as veterinarians, can benefit from well-managed data. In this video, veterinarian and Senior Lecturer in Farm Animal Health and Production, Professor Alastair Macrae, discusses how data can be used by farm vets. 

Video: Module 5: Data for Farm Vets
Lecture by Alastair Macrae | Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies at the University of Edinburgh from 'The Power of Data in Farm Animal Practice'

Collective data for the greater good

Uses of collective data: An industry overview

"Good" data can benefit the livestock sector as a whole, as well as the individual farm/farmer. In this video, Professor Alastair Macrae discusses how the industry as a whole is evolving, and the role of data in both driving the changes, and ensuring farmers can also progress with the times. 

Video: The uses of collective data: An industry overview
Lecture of The uses of collective data: An industry overview

Global industry overview

Data plays an important role in managing livestock around the globe, as discussed by Senior Data Analyst, Dr Louise Donnison, from SEBI-Livestock, who works with animal keepers around the globe to collate their individual datasets to contribute towards the collective good.  

Video: Module 5: Global industry overview
Lecture by Dr Louise Donnison | SEBI Livestock For "The Power of Data in Farm Animal Practice"

The future of farming

3D cameras and machine vision to detect behavioural changes

Current research efforts are aimed at developing advanced technology that can be used to provide farmers and farm professionals with precise information about their livestock. In the following videos, Animal Welfare Professor Rick D'Eath discusses two such research projects, funded by Innovate UK. These projects focused on using 3D cameras and machine vision to detect behavioural changes that precede tail biting in pigs. 

In time, technologies such as these ones will become more widely available and can be brought onto commercial farms to help contribute to improved information for the farmer, and therefore better welfare for the livestock. 

Video: 3D Pig Tails Case Study 1
Lecture by Prof Rick D'Eath | for 'The power of data for farm animal practice' course
Video: Tail Tech Case Study 2
Lecture by Prof Rick D'Eath | for 'The power of data for farm animal practice' course

Course conclusion and next steps

Congratulations on completing The Power of Data in Farm Animal Practice! 

We hope that you have found the course informative and interesting, and that you feel ready to integrate data into your own farming practices in ways that will benefit your individual circumstances. 

Revisit the course materials as often as you like, to refresh your memory and delve deeper into each module. We encourage you to review the Data Tutorials and Learning Activities, as practice is key to developing data skills. 

Please take a few minutes to complete our post-course questionnaire - even if you have not taken the full course - to let us know how the course has impacted you, and what you would like to see us offer in the future. Upon completion of the questionnaire you can request a personalised Digital Badge to recognise your participation in the course.   

Keep in touch

Thank you for joining us, as we discover the Power of Data. 

Additional Material


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