Sensor Assisted Alpine Milk Production

Project description

Alpine dairy farming provides healthy products, secures regional jobs, shapes the socio-cultural landscape abd contributes to the attractiveness of the Alpine region. This is possible through family farms that are mostly working in regional economic cycles, many following principles of green ecomomy. However, this situation is threatened through agro-industrial structures that put considerable pressure on these farms and lower the milk price. A shared key problem is the lack of access to appropriate framework condions: cost efficient, accessible IT-solutions that meet up to date monitoring standards and do not change the traditional economic cycle, are needed. Regional product cycles need to be ensured to fit with green economy principles that provide regional products in high quality while improving animal wellbeing. The situation is similar across the entire Alpine region. A transnational approach allows to integrate all farms in workable, custom fit management routines.

SESAM provides all framework conditions to enable farms to realise innovative, integrated monitoring: introduction of an easy-to-use tool that allows remote monitoring of individual animals through holistic, real-time assessment of movement, fertility, digestion,health indicators and (new!) connection to existing milk data. SESAM works via a network of national milk recording organisations: The coverage of the entire Alpine region with 80.000 farms (3 M cows) is ensured. With HS (key player in sensor technology), a modular, sensor-based advisory system wil be realised, piloting the following innovation:
1:Adapted to the needs of Alpine farming, 
2:Combinable with existing milk recording data (daily working routines) towards a holistic picture
3:Open system for further modules. 
The pilots will develop into transnational standard procedures. Long-term anchoring of this technology into the standard procedures will be achieved through close cooperation with EUSALP AG2/AC.

Project focus

SESAM aims at providing innovative framework conditions to boost competitiveness of Alpine dairy farming while at the same time preserving traditional and culturally relevant structures of (family) farming in the Alpine region.
Also, SESAM wants to enable smaller farms to realise monitoring procedures that improve animal wellbeing, health & robustness, product quality and workload for family farms. SESAM aims at allowing small farms to comply with innovative standards of the green economy (regional cycles, animal wellbeing) while anchoring these innovative management routines in the professional quality control mechanisms.

Project result(s)

SESAM enables Alpine dairy farmers to stay competitive while preseving advantages of regional economic cycles. Through SESAM they will be equipped with an innovative, IT-based decision-support/monitoring system for Alpine family farms. It is custom-fit: easy-to-use, understandable and cost-efficient. Developed and durably implemented by existing milk recording networks (who are in direct contact with 80.000 farms) in cooperation with research institutes and farms as partners, the new procedures set a new framework for innovation that allows a holistic, real-time assessment of individual animal wellbeing, health status and product quality. 
Project specific objectives
1. Adapting IT-based solutions for Alpine Dairy farming for SME through transnational cooperation
Based on existing preparatory work, the national (milk) recording associations and research institutions will conduct a survey on needs and capacities among farms, thereby tapping the existing working contacts between partners and 80.000 farms. A modular sensor-based advisory system that is robust, cost-efficient and compatible with existing routine data of milk recording will be realised and adapted. Existing, rather isolated and regional systems, can be integrated and their benefit shown.
2. Implementation and outroll of custom-fit solutions in the Alpine Region
The transnational team will introduce these sensor systems in pilot farms and adapt them in cooperation with a transnational peer group of farmers to specific needs. The pilots will be developed into a transnationally available set of demonstration cases that will be promoted through the national milk recording organisations. Based on an agreement between all partners, an Alpine region wide outreach and training campaign (also using research farms), ensures local implementation.
4. Policy uptake and long-term anchoring of approach within existing working structures
The outputs referring to SO 1/2 are the starting point for a standardisation of procedures towards a competitive green economy in Alpine dairy farming, thereby safeguarding traditional, regional economic cycles. This requires the transfer of the SESAM outputs into standardised procedures that will be implemented in all milk recording organisations. Furthermore, the integration of the work of SESAM into EUSALP’s AG2 and AC will lead to further policy uptake, also sustained by 25 observers.

Project output

Most relevant outputs: 
O1: Holistic, IT/sensor-based, easy-to-use and standardised dec-making procedure for small dairy farms with the following elements: modular advisory systems with improved public accessibility, embedded in the IT environment of all existing data management procedures of milk recording. 
O2: Agreement between all partners to transfer of SESAM's findings into a standardised procedure to be implemented across the entire Alpine Region. Also, the agreement will propose a coordinated plan for market roll out and the unlocking of investments. 
O3: Implementation, awareness and educational campaign not only in pilot farms, but also reaching all 80.000 dairy farms (connected to MROs) that will use the sensor system regularly. Later, market access for all these farms is envisaged.
O4: MoU between SESAM partners and EUSALP AG2 to boost implementation and policy endorsement. Also, integration of SESAM into the Green Economy Action Programme of the Alpine Convent

Target groups

The TGs mirrors a quadruple-helix approach: 
1) Alpine farms: the innovation will be developed with pilot farms to ensure optimised applicability. An Alpine wide demonstration campaign will ensure access for all farms. 
2) Milk recording organisations: Ensuring Alpine wide transnational uptake, the partnering associations will guide the standardisation through committed integration into the existing working procedures of the respective association.
3) Regional agricultural ministries and agencies: Represented in the EUSALP/AC, regional and national public institutions will support the push towards a bio-economic approach that safeguards the traditional socioeconomic cycles through exchange between EUSALP AG6 and concrete contribution to the Green Economy Action Plan within the Alpine Convention. 
4) Public: For local public, awareness of ownership for “their dairy farms” will be triggered through information on “smart rural regions" 
5) Academia:Practical Application of new KnowHow

Project context

SESAM realises both explorative piloting as well as policy implementation (Factsheet 0.0, policy cycle) for the  “Digital Agenda for Europe”  with its thematic column “Shaping the European Digital Industry”,   making a reference to SME: “Digitising European Industry aims at ensuring that businesses, SMEs and non-tech industries can benefit from digital innovations to create a higher value chain.“

SESAM will contribute to two Alpine policy frameworks: 
EUSALP AG2: See further chapter Alpine Convention: The "6th report of the Status of the Alps" has focused on Green Economy and called for an Action Programme. SESAM will be integrated into the drafting process (agreement with drafting team realised) and the further implementation of the GEAP 
SESAM does also strongly comply with national and regional policies. Some examples from the side of the LP: 
- Innovation Strategy of the federal State of Baden Württemberg, DE 
- High-tech Strategy - Germany

Macro-regional strategy contribution

EUSALP: The Strategy devotes one of the 9 AGs to the aim of increasing the economic potential of strategic sectors. Led by Baden-Württemberg, AG 2 focuses on three sectors, including green economy. Therefore, an uptake of the SESAM results contributes to strategic aspects of AG2. SESAM will be actively engaged to contribute especially to the AGs focus on future aspects Bioeconomy: Through active contribution of outputs to the AG as well as to the invitation of the AGs members to the meetings.


The building of SESAM on available knowledge can be best explained through comparision of the state of the art to the SESAM
results. So far, there is no advisory system that is 
- compliant with existing milk recording procedures: Existing systems are isolated and scattered and do not produce a holisting
picture from milk data and cow behavioural data. SESAM will integrate this. 
- custom fit for all types of farms, including Alpine family farms: Existing system do mostly work for farms with a critical mass of
cows. The SESAM system will also be adapted to small farms that are not as experienced with the use of IT. Furhtermore, the
system is cost-efficient and not complicated. 
- Monitoring individual cows in real-time: So far, a real-time monitoring of individual cows was not possible for smaller farms and
led to e.g. overuse of antibiotics. With SESAM, this will be possible. 

Horizontal principles

Sustainable development (environment) - positive
Through allowing family farms to maintain their valuable socio-economic and culturally relevant function in regional value cycles, SESAM contributes strongly to reduce unnecessary logistics.
Equal opportunity and non-discrimination - positive
SESAM enables small family farms to compete on supra-regional level. Under "non-SESAM-conditions", they are threatened by nowadays high standards with regards to product quality and monitoring routines that are often realistic only for large farms.
Equality between men and women - neutral
Both male and female farmers can benefit from SESAM.