From machine learning to generative AI: What is out there for dairy farmers?

We’ve covered before how Big Data can be leveraged to the benefit of dairy farmers, from tracking calf health vitals​ through real-time monitoring technologies to detecting breaks in the cold chain​ through Internet of Things solutions.

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning offer even more tools that can be adapted to a myriad of applications in dairy. But where did it all start?

An invited review published in Applied Animal Science attempted to round-up some of the applications for AI and machine learning related to dairy farming and production going as far back as the 1980s.

The authors from University of Florida Gainesville and the Colorado State University Fort Collins traced the use of AI in dairy as part of so-called expert systems – computer software applications trained to solve problems and carry out functions like those performed by humans. These systems didn’t take root, the authors noted, partly due to the hardware and software limitations of the time. However, scientists started to take advantage of machine learning – also known as a method called ‘random forest’ – to analyze large data sets – a practice that continues today.

Further in the study, which is referenced at the end of this article, the authors suggest new ways in which dairy farmers and food producers can take advantage of AI – for example, to offer real-time translation where employees speak different languages, or to use virtual reality platforms to train workers.

But with so much funding and resources going into AI development and the promise that the technology could revolutionize the dairy sector, what is actually available to producers right now?