Diseases remain one of the biggest threats to livestock production worldwide – a point reinforced by the recent publication of statistics which detailed that in 2019, around one quarter of the world’s population of domestic pigs were culled as a result of contracting African swine fever or being exposed to the virus. Mitigating disease threat and preventing the onset of major diseases is a focal point for the livestock sector going forwards, coupled with the need to monitor the efficiency and environmental impact of livestock production. 

Utilising technology as a means of monitoring, managing and improving livestock health, welfare and behaviour is the latest emerging area of research which tackles the above challenges and one that is comprehensively explored in a new book. 

Advances in precision livestock farming considers the recent developments in precision livestock technologies – spanning from wearable sensors to the use of thermal imaging techniques – and provides farmers, producers and advisers with the means necessary to optimise livestock production. 

Precision farming technology and its adoption by farmers is growing rapidly across the globe, primarily because of its capabilities to continuously monitor livestock and identify the farmer of any changes in behaviour which may indicate the early onset of disease. “The new technology offers exciting opportunities to help farmers remain competitive, whilst meeting the many requirements that society imposes on them,” says Professor Daniel Berckmans, editor of this new book. Despite this, there remains a gap in communication between the key stakeholders across the agri-food supply chain, as referenced by Professor Berckmans. “Development of suitable systems needs much more intensive collaboration between people from different scientific disciplines and technical fields,” he adds. And this new book is an advocate of just that – international collaboration for the benefit of the planet.

Over 30 researchers from around the globe, from industry to academia, from technicians to livestock health specialists, have joined forces to develop a standard reference in the field of precision farming technology. A key element explored in the book is the use of automated systems for monitoring livestock fertility and pregnancy – an area of research which can sometimes be overlooked when mentioned alongside the capabilities of precision livestock technologies to monitor disease. “I’m very pleased to see the expertise of the individuals who have been brought together for this project,” says Dr David Kelton, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Guelph, Canada. “I fully expect that this publication will be highly sought and cited by farmers, advisors, researchers and students around the world. I look forward to seeing this important contribution to the body of knowledge on precision farming,” he adds. Rob Burleigh, Managing Director at Burleigh Dodds Science Publishing, reinforces the need for collaboration to ensure that precision livestock farming reaches its fullest potential and contributes to a more sustainable future. “Achieving sustainable agriculture and making a positive impact on climate change and the UN Sustainable Development Goals requires a collaborative approach,” he says. “Bringing experts together in this unique way creates an unrivalled resource and a platform where researchers around the world can share their knowledge on the latest developments in precision livestock farming.” Click here for more information about the book.