Sensors and automation for precision livestock

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
Providing an in-depth knowledge of the main sensor systems and automation solutions that can potentially be implemented in a livestock farms. Within case studies developed in the integrated course of "Precision livestock farming", acquiring methods and competences for extracting, analyzing and interpreting data generated by sensor systems to optimize the breeding management in a precision livestock farming perspective.
Expected learning outcomes
Ability to evaluate the introduction of precision livestock farming systems in different productive contexts, from the individual sensors to an integrated precision farming management system.
Acquisition of a method for extracting, analyzing and interpreting data generated by sensor systems.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
The lessons will be held remotely on the Microsoft Teams platform in synchronous mode according to the established schedule. The lessons will be recorded and available to students for asynchronous viewing.
Some face-to-face lessons may be scheduled. In any case, it will be possible to attend these lessons online.
The program and reference material will not change. Recordings of the lessons and supplementary material in the form of videos will be made available on the ARIEL website of the course.
Examination according to the procedures provided using the Microsoft Teams platform or, where the regulations allow, in presence, always in oral form.
Course syllabus
First part
Description and operating principles of the main sensors used in Precision Livestock Farming systems.
· Practical applications of sensors: operating, installation, output signals. Interconnection and data bus.
· Microcontroller and automation systems.
· Electric, pneumatic, hydraulic actuators: operating, applications and automatic control.

Second part
The technologies and the basic principles of the Precision Livestock Farming applied to bovine herds
· The on-board sensors of automatic milking systems (AMS) and automatic feeding systems (AFS). Collection and
analysis of the data recorded through farm information systems.
· The birth alarm systems: typologies, operating principles, elements of operational choices. Application examples
· Indoor (in the barn) and outdoor (for grazing) animal positioning systems. Examples.

Third part
The main categories of optical instruments available on the market for "Precision Livestock Farming" applications. Knowledge of the main multivariate data processing techniques.
Topics discussed:
· Interaction of the electromagnetic radiation with matter. Optical properties of agricultural products. Vibrational
spectroscopy. Absorption bands of the spectrum in the visible and near infrared range (vis/NIR).
· Instrumentation analysis (vis/NIR spectroscopy, image analysis and hyperspectral imaging, thermal imaging).
Bench top and portable instruments.
· Spectra interpretation. Data pretreatments. Exploratory analysis of multivariate data: principal components
analysis (PCA). Data modeling: qualitative classification models and quantitative predictive models. Model
calibration and validation. Practical exercises of data analysis using specific software.
· Analysis of real case studies.
Prerequisites for admission
The course requires basic mathematical and statistical knowledge to face the crucial aspects of the theory and of the described instrumentation.
Teaching methods
The teaching methods consist of:
a) frontal lesson
b) classroom exercises also with group work
c) field visits
The course does not have compulsory attendance, but it is strongly recommended the lessons participation.
Teaching Resources
Notes of the lessons published on the Ariel website
Monographic articles indicated during the lessons
Assessment methods and Criteria
The exam consists of a unique oral interview concerning the arguments discussed during the course.
The exam mark will be based on:
- theoretical knowledge of the topics of the course;
- practical knowledge of the subject matter of the course:
- ability to speak technical language correlated with the course.

The final mark will be expressed in thirty.
The exam procedure is the same for non-attending students.
Lessons: 48 hours
by appointment only
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - via Celoria 2, Milano
By appointment only
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences - Agricultural Engineering area
make an appointment
via Celoria 2 - Building 10: Ingegneria Agraria