Stray voltage issues in the dairy barn

The devastating impact of stray voltage on farms in Ontario, Canada, is a long-standing and well-documented problem, and one that can have particularly devastating impacts on the health of dairy cattle. But where does the stray voltage come from?

Stray voltage: A growing issue 
Because of the use of electronics in the barn, the risk of stray voltage increases. This is according to the Belgium research institute ILVO and Fedagrim, the branch organisation for machine suppliers. Together, they have published a brochure for farmers about this problem. Electronics is hidden in a number of things in the dairy barn, such as the milking machines, automatic gates and solar panels. ILVO and Fedagrim state that stray voltage can never be excluded, which can lead to components such as fences to come under tension. Since the barn is full of metal parts, there is a chance that voltage differences between different objects occur. We also have to consider that cows are much more sensitive than humans. Nervous behaviour or a decrease in feed or water intake may be indications that there is stray voltage in the barn. The presence of stray voltage can be due to different factors. For example, damage of the insulation due to rats or other vermin or rusted earthed wires. Meanwhile, a working group has been set up in Belgium where all major suppliers and installation companies are working together to tackle the stray voltage problems.

SmartAgriHubs is live


The SmartAgriHubs project enables a broad digital transformation of the European farming and food sector. With a €20 million budget co-funded by the European Union, the project aims to build an extensive pan-European network of Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs). The project starts today on November 1st, 2018.

SmartAgriHubs: 140 Digital Innovation Hubs, 9 regional cluster & 28 flagship innovation experiments

The project has the potential to be a real game changer in the adoption of digital solutions by the farming sector. Recent initiatives showed the eagerness of the sector to seize the opportunities offered by ICT, network and data–oriented technologies. However, current available applications are still fragmented and mainly used by a small group of early-adopters. SmartAgriHubs will leverage, strengthen and connect local DIHs, and 20 000 Competence Centres (CCs) throughout Europe. SmartAgriHubs has already put together a large network of 140 DIHs by building on its existing projects and ecosystems such as Internet of Food and Farm (IoF2020). All DIHs are aligned with 9 regional clusters, which are led by organizations that are closely related to national or regional digitization initiatives and funds. This multi-layer approach is supported by 28 Innovation experiments in which ideas, concepts and prototypes are further developed and introduced into the market. More than 2 million farms are expected to be involved through 4000 experiments, bringing the process of digitization closer to the specific needs of the farmers. Demystifying digitization is vital to the project, helping farmers and their businesses to achieve real and attainable results.

Satellite data authorized to replace on-farm checks

As part of its ongoing move to simplify and modernise the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the European Commission has adopted new rules that will for the first time expressly allow a range of modern technologies to be used when carrying out checks for area-based CAP payments. This includes the possibility to completely replace physical checks on farms with a system of automated checks based on analysis of Earth observation data.


CEMA EU Code of conduct on agricultural data sharing by contractual agreement

Brussels, 23 of April 2018 - A coalition of associations from the EU agri-food chain launched a joint EU Code of Conduct on agricultural data sharing in Brussels today. The Code promotes the benefits of sharing data and enables agri-business models, including agri-cooperatives and other agri-businesses, to swiftly move into an era of digitally enhanced farming. The Code sheds greater light on contractual relations and provides guidance on the use of agricultural data, particularly the rights to access and use the data.

LINK to the Code of Conduct

DLG position paper on smart digital farming (Smart-AKIS)

Link to position paper


Probably no other innovation is spreading through all aspects of agriculture as massively as digitization just now, and accordingly it is a topic of intensive discussion. Given the rising demand from a growing world population, agriculture as the basis of all primary production is faced with great challenges. As the largest user of land, the sector is also highly responsible for maintaining important environmental goods such as soil, water, climate and biodiversity. There may be conflicts between the goals of food production and environmental conservation, so that it is particularly important at prime agricultural locations such as Germany to find conflict resolutions that are supported by broad consensus in society. There is a demand for new and progressive concepts that are adapted to the diversity of the different locations and strengthen competition. Digitization will assume a key role here. These concepts can help to maintain value creation in agriculture, integrate agriculture into vital rural areas and strengthen its profile as an indispensable part of society. Digitization will change not only our entire business life, but also our social relations. Independently of the structure and size of a farm, various new digital and analog tool combinations are now appearing as an opportunity to actively join in shaping and supporting a style of agriculture fit for the future. For the agricultural sector it is all the more important to clearly define, articulate and insist on all the digitization requirements resulting from its special responsibility. Digitization in agriculture offers many opportunities, but given the extensive networking and system formations it also involves risks. That is why it must be applied carefully so that agricultural production as the essential basis of the legally anchored “Critical Infrastructure Food” (Food Security Act (EVG)) remains assured, even if digital systems should fail for a time or maybe for somewhat longer – for example as a result of sabotage. Measures to secure decentralized emergency operation of the mounted and machine controls are therefore in the interest of society as a whole.

Persbericht: ‘DataHub voor AgroFood’ van start

ILVO gaat de komende 3 jaar samen met het Innovatief Bedrijvennetwerk Smart Digital Farming (SDF) en met 6 bedrijven en landbouworganisaties (AVEVE, Boerenbond, CRV, DGZ, Innovatiesteunpunt, Milcobel) een ‘DataHub voor AgroFood’ ontwikkelen. De hub maakt het mogelijk om data uit te wisselen en te connecteren. Het project besteedt veel aandacht aan veiligheid, respect voor dataprivacy en behoud van data-eigendom. EFRO (Europees Fonds voor Regionale Ontwikkeling) geeft bijna een half miljoen € steun. Het startschot wordt gegeven op 3 april 2018.


CAPIGI 2018, 09-11 April, Mercure Hotel, Amersfoort (NL)

 The CAPIGI conference connects people from government, science, ag-industry and geospatial businesses to discuss the application of geospatial data and systems in agriculture. The sessions are grouped around themes: Setting-the-Scene, Agriculture policy, Adoption Precision agriculture, Remote sensing, IoT (Internet of Things), Big data, Earth Observation, Galileo, Farm Management systems and Drones. On this website you will find relevant information on speakers, sessions and the programme. 


Soundtalks in het VRT journaal

Hoestmonitor doet antibioticagebruik bij varkens dalen

In Aarsele, bij Tielt in West-Vlaanderen wordt er een systeem uitgetest waardoor varkens minder antibiotica moeten krijgen.
In de stallen hangen microfoons die detecteren welke geluiden de dieren maken. Zo wordt duidelijk welke dieren ziek zijn en welke niet en moeten alleen de zieke dieren antibiotica krijgen.

Minder antibioticagebruik bij dieren. Niemand kan er tegen zijn en het klinkt als muziek in de oren. Of als gehoest. Want aan de hand van het hoesten van een varken, kan bepaald worden of het dier ziek is of niet. Soundtalks, een bedrijf uit Leuven, ging met deze materie aan de slag en ontwikkelde een hoest-monitoring-systeem. Het bedrijf is gespecialiseerd in het ontwikkelen van algoritmes voor geluidsanalyses.

Het oogt simpel, in een stal hangen 2 microfoons en in de centrale gang hangt er een zwart bakje. De microfoon registreert alle geluiden in de stal. 24 uur op 24, 7 dagen op 7. Maar de analyse die er dan gebeurt, is opmerkelijk.

“We hebben algoritmes die automatische berekenen hoe vaak die varkens hoesten”, legt Dries Berckmans, CEO van Soundtalks uit. “Daar gebeurt er nog een verwerking op waarbij rekening wordt gehouden met bvb. seizoenen, het aantal dieren en daaruit wordt bepaald wanneer er zich een probleem begint te ontwikkelen”.