Located at the Volcani Center campus in Bet-Dagan, near Tel-Aviv, ARO’s six institutes are responsible for Plant Sciences, Animal Science, Plant Protection, Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences, Agricultural Engineering, and Postharvest and Food Sciences. ARO also operates four research stations, in various parts of the country, and serves as a testing center for agricultural produce and equipment. Israel’s Gene Bank for Agricultural Crops is also located on the ARO Volcani Center campus. While encompassing the full range of agricultural research activities, ARO focuses in particular on arid zone agriculture, enabling Israel – a country short of all the resources required for agriculture – to achieve among the highest levels of agricultural output in the world.
Among ARO’s areas of special expertise are:
- agriculture under arid conditions
- agriculture on marginal soils
- irrigation using effluent and saline water
- crop cultivation in protected environments
- freshwater fish farming under conditions of water shortage
- minimization of produce losses through use of latest pest control and post-harvest storage methods
- breeding and development of new strains of crops and domestic animals better suited to the adverse conditions which already exist in many parts of the world, and which are likely to become even more prevalent in the future
About the PLF Lab
The Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) Lab is a research unit of the Volcani institute. While the ARO encompass the full range of agricultural research activities, the PLF lab focuses on developing PLF management concepts and their associated monitoring technologies (sensors) for farmed animals (dairy, sheep, goats, poultry, insects and aquaculture). The PLF lab’s researchers maintain close and long-standing relationships with Israeli students, engineers and technicians and their counterparts in Europe, the US, Australia and elsewhere; and with Israeli technological and agricultural companies. The laboratory implements its vision through excellence in research and development, to help Israel to continue achieving one of the highest levels of agricultural output in the world. The PLF lab is set to develop various algorithms, software and hardware infrastructure to enable TechCare pilots and data processing. For further reading about the PLF lab, visit the website.
ARO Role in TechCare
ARO is mainly involved in WP4 – Data. Bringing our experience in PLF technology, Software and Hardware R&D and cloud technology for livestock, the ARO PLF-Lab is a lead contributor to the design and implementation of data related aspects of the project, integration and general tech consulting.
Professor Ilan Halachmi is founder and head of the Precision livestock farming (PLF) Lab. in the Volcani Institute. In 2015 he wrote ‘Precision livestock farming applications; Making sense of sensors to support farm management”. He has contributed to over 80 research papers about PLF (Scholar), and he have been involved in 9 EU Projects, and 8 PLF patents. Ilan obtained his BSc and MSc Engineering degrees from the Technion (Haifa), and BGU University in Israel and a PhD from Wageningen UR, The Netherlands. Ilan is founder and 1st president of the EAAP’s PLF study commission, Adjunct Professor for computer simulation in BGU and he works also as PLF section editor in Animal – the International Journal of Animal Biosciences. In TechCare project Ilan is the leader of WP4 concerning “Data science application for developing Early warning systems (EWS) in order to improve the management of animal welfare”. He was raised up in a livestock family farm, where nowadays he has a hobby farm (horses, lambs; chickens), he has a wife and 4 kids.
Alon Bar-shamai, MSC Research student. With well over 20 years of experience in various R&D projects, Alon has joined the lab in 2020 to pursue his master degree and perfect his understanding of agriculture engineering, PLF and integrating AI into the field. In TechCare Alon is responsible for Data architecture, Integration of data sources and Consumer insights R&D.
Adi Golan, AI Research Student. MSc Computer Science student, Haifa University. BSc in Computer Science specialized in Machine Learning, Computer Vision and Signal Processing. In TechCare Adi is responsible for Algorithm R&D and Neural network applications for PLF (e.g. – Algorithms for biometric identification of small ruminants).
Code illustration ©: ARO Mobile app ©: Breedr
Launched into the UK market in March 2020, Breedr is a precision livestock farming company allowing Cattle and Sheep farmers to capture on farm data using a mobile and web app. Providing farmers with a platform to capture data against their animals allows Breedr to offer 3 primary services to its users; 1. performance analytics, business evaluation and benchmarking, 2. livestock trading opportunities with support on establishing transparent, traceable and fully integrated supply chains and 3. advanced payment on stock to support cashflow. To know more about Breedr have a look at this video! As part of the TechCare project Breedr is involved in supporting the capture of observational animal welfare data which will be used in conjunction with other partners to build a predictive algorithm to provide early warning signals to farmers of a potential welfare risk to their stock. Involved within the project from Breedr involves Founder and CEO Ian Wheal alongside livestock product manager Chris Freeman and business analyst Christine Howroyd.
Ian Wheal, CEO of Breedr, and Business Owner. Ian has a BEng, BSc (Computer Science) and MBA (London Business School), worked in agriculture, technology, data and business development for the past 18 years, and experience expanding businesses to the US, Australia and UK. Ian is WP4 co-leader, and will lead Breedr’s overall involvement within TechCare, managing both internal responsibilities and working alongside other project leaders.
Chris Freeman, Livestock Product Manager. Chris has a BSc (Agriculture) and MSc (Ruminant Nutrition) alongside a decade of practical on-farm experience, both nationally and internationally and at managerial level. Chris’s role at Breedr is to explore opportunities for the development of the Breedr app and to support its farmer users. As part of the TechCare project Chris will be involved in ensuring the pilot farms are set-up and trained to use the platform for recording the relevant data.
Christine Howroyd, Business Analyst. Christine is a Certified Scrum Master, Product Owner and Business Analyst with over 15 years experience leading Agile software delivery projects across a variety of industries. Christine’s role at Breedr is to understand and analyse customer needs and find solutions for them. This will follow through to the TechCare pilots where she will carry out the analysis for the data collection and will provide the configuration for pilot farms.