A FUNDING pot of €2million has been awarded to a team of researchers to improve the uptake of Precision Livestock Farming tools in small ruminant farming systems in Europe and beyond.

These digital technologies have been embraced by sectors such as the dairy industry, improving farm efficiency and sustainability – however, the uptake of such tools has been slower in the small ruminant industry.

A new EU-funded project named Sm@RT (Small Ruminant Technologies) will bring together a network of researchers from across Europe who will improve awareness amongst those working in the farming industry of newly available PLF tools, demonstrating their potential and possible return of investment. The network will engage with a wide range of sheep and goat farming systems across the continent.

The project will use a variety of methods to facilitate productive knowledge exchange within the European small ruminant community, working with a wide range of stakeholders including those operating well-equipped demonstration farms (‘digifarms’) and innovative commercial farms. By drawing upon the valuable input and knowledge of farmers and passing it on to their peers, the hope is that it will increase uptake of PLF tools across the industry.

Sm@RT aims to use a step-by-step approach to ensure that the correct people are involved at the right stage to allow discussion and the exchange of ideas in a trusting environment. It is also intended to use these discussions to motivate IT companies to develop further practical digital solutions for the sheep and goat sector.

Project coordinator for Sm@RT based at Scotland’s Rural College, Dr Claire Morgan-Davies, commented: “I’m pleased that we have been successful in obtaining this funding to work closely with farmers and stakeholders throughout the food value chain to increase the awareness of new tools which can help farmers to have efficient livestock production.”

Dr Fiona Kenyon from Moredun Research Institute added: “We’re delighted to be part of this European project focussing on the potential of precision livestock tools in small ruminant farming. This project will deliver practical information from the ‘digifarms’ and commercial farmers that will be helpful to farmers throughout the UK and Europe.”

Farmers and stakeholders can become involved in the project by completing a short survey to help the SM@RT project team understand their main challenges, needs and interests along the whole food value chain for PLF tools and digital technologies.

The survey is available here - https://bit.ly/3sI0Eni