Farm management through “digital twins”

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The Swedish innovation platform Agtech 2030, hosted by Linköping University, has created a digital control room for agriculture. It is called the Agtech Dashboard, AGDA for short, and includes digital twins of farms.

The concept formed already at a meeting at the farm Rotenberg Manor in December 2021. Before this, the idea had been discussed in more general terms about a year. Work begun directly but it took one year to create a prototype. The final product is planned to be presented at the Agritechnica tradeshow in Hanover, Germany, this coming November.

The complexity of agriculture is increasing. Large quantities of information must be analyzed and managed. Martin Stenmarck at the technology company HiQ is involved in the project:

“Farmers today have many systems to manage:  tractors, machines, milking robots and silos. Although some integration of the systems has been done, there is still more to be desired. Furthermore, user-friendly interfaces are often missing”, says Stenmarck.

Inspiration from Africa

In light of this, technology specialists and farmers have developed the digital control room. Fredrik Gustafsson, professor of sensor informatics at Linköping University, says:

“We have been inspired by the needs of park rangers in Kenya. In the Ngulia project, new technology was developed for increased protection of rhinos. It is about digitization, app-based field reports, sensor networks and positioning systems. A central part has been positioning and movement analysis in real time. We have now transferred and adapted this to the Swedish agricultural context”, says Gustafsson.

The team has tested advanced functions in the model, for example maps where you can see exactly where each cow has gone in the last 24 hours.

Digital 3D models

The team has now also created digital twins. The idea is that the farmer should be able to bring up the entire farm as an interactive 3D model.

“This year, this idea has begun to be realized through the creation of digital twins by Rotenberg’s manor and Vreta utbildningsentrum”, says Karolina Muhrman, organizational leader within Agtech 2030.

Ingela Appelsved, Director of education at Vreta utbildningscentrum (Vreta education center), fills in:

“The farmer can get a good overview of his farm and can more easily plan the work with his team. The information is visual and easy to absorb, you can even see it through VR glasses.”

Mikael Pettersson, farm manager at Rotenberg Manor and part of the team behind AGDA, comments:

“The 3D model consists of two models, one overview that includes the fields and one that focuses on the farm center. Through this, you can quickly and clearly point to something you want to discuss, for example which solar cells need to be fixed. It will be easy to plan the work and coordinate tasks, says Pettersson.

Lots of photos and videos

Oscar Hoffmann at Linköping University, who created the 3D model, explains:

“The model is based on approx. 4,000 still images photographed with drones as well as images from the ground with a hand-held camera to capture details. The compilation of the images into a 3D model is called photogrammetry. The 3D models also have focal points. Clicking on them brings up photos and in some cases video in real time.

“This concept gives a foretaste of how future farm management will be possible”,  Per Frankelius, innovation leader in Agtech 2030 concludes.

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