I Know Food Scottish Borders

This field lab is looking at how to design, develop and test potential new technologies to improve the recording of medical and veterinary data for sheep and cattle.

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Field Lab Timeline

    3/14/2017 12:00:00 AM
  • Initial idea

    Initial idea
  • 11/20/2017 12:00:00 AM
  • Kick off meeting

    Kick off meeting
  • 2/12/2018 12:00:00 AM
  • Key issues identified

    Key issues identified
  • 6/19/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Aims identified

    Aims identified
  • 7/14/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Start of tech development

    Start of tech development
  • 8/31/2018 11:00:00 PM
  • Initial tech results

    Initial tech results
  • 10/31/2018 12:00:00 AM
  • Development and feedback

    Development and feedback
  • 3/15/2019 12:00:00 AM
  • Design of tech

    Design of tech
  • 8/31/2019 11:00:00 PM
  • On-farm tech trials

    On-farm tech trials
  • 3/15/2020 12:00:00 AM
  • Feedback meeting

    Feedback meeting
  • 9/14/2020 11:00:00 PM
  • Evaluation and review

    Evaluation and review
For further information hover over the above milestone marks
  • Discussion

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  • Achievements

    May 2020

    Third phase of the process

    This field lab is now nearing the end of it's third and final phase, which involves trialing the new technology and evaluating the process and innovations. The group co-designed a lone worker safety app and installed it on the phones of staff working on the estate, iterating through versions of the app to improve it.

    The on-farm safety app is going through it's final iteration in order to provide a reliable solution for the Scottish border group. The app is to be thought of as part of a wider package of farm safety procedures.

    For the third stage, three group meetings have taken place between October 2019 and February 2020, as well as a joint meeting in December with the Yorkshire group (see I Know Food Yorkshire), to share innovations between the groups.

    Milestone: Feedback meeting

    September 2019

    Lone worker safety app in development

    The engineers have been working over the summer on the lone working app and have now built it to the stage of a basic functioning app. The app:
    • Automatically logs you in and out when passing near a predefined WIFI hotspot
    • Alerts the user when it thinks that you may be at harm, asking for confirmation that you are OK
    • If the manual alert is initiated by the user, or the system automatically determines you are not OK based upon your movement, then a notification is sent by SMS to a defined number
    o The functionality has been built to send a message over the internet so that the phone itself doesn't need phone service
    • Simple user settings mean users can customise their personal thresholds and on body phone location such as jeans of breast pocket

    Further work is underway to complete various other aspects of functionality. The group will meet in September to review the app at it's current stage and give feedback to the developers on the functionality and the Graphical User Interface (GUI) and to test the app out in real-world examples.

    Milestone: Design of tech

    May 2019

    Design of technology in progress

    This group has identified the issues they will focus on for technology development, with two focus areas of lone worker safety and a livestock database. They have been working with engineers and academics at the Universities of York and Manchester to co-develop solutions in response to these issues.

    Lone worker safety has been deemed the priority topic for this group, which has two sub projects looking at the following specific scenarios:
    • Lone working in the shed during calving at unsociable hours
    • Lone working in the uplands using a quad

    The group have found that current available systems don’t work well in their sheds or in remote upland areas, where GPS coverage and phone signals respectively, often don’t reach. Engineers, together with the farmers, are looking for a solution that can monitor farmers’ movement and can raise an alarm in the event that their movement stops. This assumes an emergency situation where the person would be unable to notify others. Within the solution is also the ability to interact with the system to avoid raising a false alarm and the ability to more easily notify others in the case of an emergency. Checking in and checking out at the beginning and end of the day are also automated so that users only need to remember to have the solution on their person. The work will first focus on working in the sheds and then on working in the uplands, which requires a similar solution but needs to be adapted to the more remote context.

    Milestone: Design of tech

    May 2019

    Design of technology in progress

    Livestock database

    Similar to the I Know Food Yorkshire group, this second area of the project will be looking at an effective way farmers can make notes on livestock out in the field about specific cases and retrieve that information very easily. This has taken the shape of an app, but one that is incredibly simple to use and focusses on data about a particular animal or a small number of animals instead of the whole herd. This essentially aims to be an upgrade to the pen and paper solutions currently used to capture these notes in the field.

    Milestone: Design of tech

    July 2018

    Engineer working on the potential solutions

    The results of the field labs are being discussed by a team of engineers at the University of Manchester, with a view to proposing potential technological solutions.

    Milestone: Start of tech development

    June 2018

    Issues further described and attributes of solutions identified

    We used maps and timelines to further understand each of the issues that were shortlisted. Where and when are the technologies or practices that are currently used, in what ways are they not ideal and why? This then led to a more detailed conversation about what would really help resolve the issues, and aspects that important to take into account when looking for solutions (e.g. easy to use in the field, easy to carry around).

    Milestone: Key issues identified

    February 2018

    Prioritising issues

    In this meeting we looked at the potential issues and, using criteria we developed in the group, we prioritised the issues.

    The prioritised short list of issues is:

    - How to improve the recording of medical and veterinary data for sheep and cattle, which is interlinked with issues around tagging and reading tags
    - Exploring lone worker safety problems

    Milestone: Aims identified

    March 2017

    Introductions and ideas

    At this kick off meeting we introduced each other and discussed the reasons why we are farmers. We then discussed the experiences we have had with agricultural innovation and the trade-offs we have had to make in response to new technologies. This led to a discussion about the reasons why we should innovate in the first place. The meeting ended with identifying a range of potential issues the group could work on.

    Milestone: Kick off meeting

    March 2017

    The first stage of the project

    The aim of the first stage is to understand the opportunities, challenges and frustrations facing the farmers in each field lab, including positive and negative experiences of on-farm technology. The group then identify the issues that they want to work on. An engineer from the University of Manchester is present throughout the discussions, who provides a link to a wider pool of academics interested in technology development. These engineers are currently looking at potential solutions, including low-cost sensor technologies, and how these may be developed in response to the issues identified.

    Milestone: Initial idea

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