Introducing Digi4Live: Changing the Livestock Sector with Data and Digital Tracking

Data Spaces in Agriculture

Comprising a consortium of 16 partners from 9 different countries, Digi4Live holds promise for bolstering the economic and environmental performance of the livestock sector, particularly benefiting medium and small-scale farms. Below, we explore the challenges faced by these farmers, the factors hindering the widespread adoption of data and digital technologies, the advantages of data sharing, and the pivotal objectives of the project.

Why Do We Need Digi4Live?

In today’s technological environment, there is an abundance of data and digital solutions, spread through various agriculture sectors including livestock. Over the years, stakeholders across the agrifood value chain have embraced these technologies, often hesitating to share their data willingly or automatically. However, the recent enactment of the EU Data Governance Act marks a significant shift in this landscape, facilitating access to previously inaccessible data. This regulatory change heralds a newfound momentum in leveraging livestock tracking, tracing, and digital technologies. Here are several benefits that arise from the integration of data and digital solutions in the livestock domain:

  • Improved Livestock Management
  • Enhanced Productivity
  • Health Monitoring and Disease Management
  • Precision Livestock Farming
  • Supply Chain Transparency
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Animal Welfare
  • Access to Information and Expertise
The benefits of these technological advancements have not been widely felt among medium and small-scale farmers. There is a notable lack of uptake and use of data and digital technologies among EU farmers.
Overcoming Barriers for Small and Medium Farmers

Various research has delved into the integration of data and digital technologies within the domain of small and medium-scale agricultural farms. Factors such as prevailing macroeconomic conditions, heightened consumer emphasis on sustainability, evolving regulatory frameworks, and shifting business models stand poised to amplify the adoption of agricultural technology (agtech) among farmers. This adoption, however, hinges significantly on addressing and thoroughly exploring the concerns outlined in McKinsey & Company’s article titled “Agtech: Breaking Down the Farmer Adoption Dilemma.”

Within the margins of this report, it was revealed that 76% of medium-scale farms (ranging between 2,000 to 5,000 acres) and 36% of small-scale farms (comprising fewer than 2,000 acres) are either utilizing or planning to integrate at least one technology within the next two years. Additionally, statistics from the European Commission indicate that nearly 70% of farms in the European Union encompass less than 5 hectares. Findings from a 2018 study on the adoption of precision farming by Franco Denny, Singh Dharam Raj, and Praveen K.V. underscored that land size exerts the most substantial positive influence on the uptake of digital and data technologies within agriculture.

However, despite these promising trends, the article from J Blasch, B van der Kroon, P van Beukering, R Munster, S Fabiani, P Nino, S Vanino “Farmer Preferences for Adopting Precision Farming Technologies: A Case Study from Italy” highlights persistently low technology adoption rates in local communities, for example among Italian farmers, attributed primarily to socio-economic barriers.

Here several factors block small and medium-scale farms from fully harnessing digital technologies:

  1. Cost: Upfront investment in hardware and software can be prohibitive.
  2. Complexity: Technical expertise is often required, which small farmers may lack.
  3. Limited Information: Awareness about available technologies and their benefits may be lacking.
  4. Risk Aversion: Farmers may be hesitant to disrupt existing practices.
  5. Infrastructure: Poor internet connectivity in rural areas can hinder adoption.
  6. Customization Needs: Technologies may not cater to diverse farming conditions.
  7. Privacy Concerns: Farmers may worry about data security and misuse.

Digi4Live Goals for the Livestock Sector

Digi4Live envisions a future where data and digital technologies are more accessible and tailored to the needs of small and medium-scale farms. Its primary objectives include:

  1. Enhancing the utilization of digital technologies and diverse data sources across various livestock species involves adept integration methods, which pose formidable challenges in methodology, technology, and ethics.
  2. Facilitating collaboration between research and industry sectors involves implementing measures to foster standardization, dissemination, awareness, communication, and networking. Additionally, policy dialogues, mutual learning, and case studies about livestock data and digital technologies are vital for bridging existing gaps.
  3. Mobilizing key stakeholders and fostering synergistic collaborations are pivotal steps towards maximizing the potential of integrated approaches in livestock evaluation and tracking. Such endeavours are crucial for leveraging big data effectively, benefiting science, policy-making, and business efforts alike.

For Digi4Live’s path to its goal, it’s crucial to rely on a multi-actor approach. Thus, the project engages farmers, processors and on-field livestock practitioners, data and digital technology providers, research institutions and experts, policy makers, public bodies, advisors and standardisation bodies, agri-food DIHs and AKIS actors and the general public. These actors will be engaged through 6 case studies.

Digi4Live is set to craft 6 overarching ideas for data-driven solutions geared towards monitoring livestock, their habitats, and environmental effects through 6 comprehensive case studies. These case studies will tackle domain-specific and technical hurdles, with an eye towards scalability across the EU. Operating across France, Germany, Greece, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, the Netherlands, and Finland, our project seeks to address the complexities of livestock tracking.

At the end of the final year of the project, over 500+stakeholders could adopt technologies, with 50+ data-driven digital solutions developed.

A Path for Innovation 

LUKE leads a consortium of 16 partners in the Digi4Live project, committed to developing a concept for data sharing and governance in a way that meets the stakeholder needs and can be upscaled.  Follow us for more updates on our progress through our Newsroom and social media accounts: LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.