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The Connected Cow: a Brazilian-Italian effort to enhance the animal welfare based on precision livestock farming technologies

Abstract

Current international socioeconomic scenery has leaded food producing countries to be more efficient, associated to a concern with making the access to food more equitable and producing it in a safer and more sustainable manner. To this end, it is fundamental to develop digital technologies that allow farmers to perform real-time monitoring of grazing herds to favor the productivity and animal welfare, based on the concept of Precision Livestock Farming. This perception is shared by Embrapa Pecuária Sudeste (Embrapa Southeast Livestock) and the Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences of Università di Bologna (DISTAL), institutions that work in the research and development of products and processes aimed at sustainable agriculture in Brazil and Italy, respectively. Thus, this proposal seeks to achieve a seed funding to support the exchange of Brazilian and Italian researchers involved in an international collaborative project granted by FAPESP ("From the Sky to the Cells - multidimensional study of thermal comfort of animals raised on crop-livestock-forest integrated systems". SKYCELL Project, Process 2019/04528-6). As a general challenge, our collaborative plan proposes advancing in the use of sensors, analytical acoustics and imaging methods, and information technology strategies to increase the capability of continuously monitoring animals in real-time. This proposal will allow us to discuss in greater detail the results of the ongoing research project as well as to structure a new joint research project (Draft Project), for submission to Brazilian and European funding agencies. For this reason, a lean and simple structure in five activities was chosen: Activity 1: "Invitation to the Future", an institutional strategic mobilization (month 1); Activity 2: "Share the Vision", an online meeting to discuss the ongoing research and to provide initial inputs for the Draft Project (month 2); Activity 3: "Commitment Plus" Workshop, to occur during an exchange mission in Brazil, to discuss achieved results and to intensify the construction of the Draft Project with international partners and local stakeholders (month 6); Activity 4: "Portraits of Progress" Workshop, a face-to-face meeting in Italy to refine the Draft Project, schedule and budget, which will include potential European stakeholders (month 12); Activity 5: "Point Checklist" Work Group, that will join online each two months for the final formatting of the Draft Project (months 14, 16 and 18). No financial costs are involved to perform the Activities 1, 2 and 5. Mobility of Italian and Brazilian researchers will be funded by the Università di Bologna's mechanisms (Activity 3) and by FAPESP Sprint Program (Activity 4), respectively. Two Brazilian PhD researchers will take part in the exchange activities in Italy, and two Italian researchers with the same academic qualification will travel to Brazil. The international exchanges are planned to involve institutional and technical meetings, workshops and short courses to graduate students, (Master degree and PhD) both in Italy and in Brazil. The proposal will last 18 months, and will create more opportunities for coworking, favor the synergy on an ongoing project and allow to jointly build a solid proposal to be submitted to Brazilian and European research programs. It would be a great opportunity to develop disruptive technologies which can result in patents. (AU)

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