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Big data and advanced analytics for sustainable dairy management

Why this project?

Digitalisation is a trend that extends to the basis of every chain. A dairy farmer is therefore more and more becoming a data manager. There are many software applications and sensors on the market today to monitor the health status of cattle or the quality of milk. But the proliferation of data often entails an additional workload. However, efficiency is central to sustainable dairy farming.

Moreover, the dairy farmer wants to be able to anticipate upcoming problems, instead of just identifying them as they happen. Many software packages still fall short in the area of forecasting. This is because scientific knowledge about predictive models struggles to find its way into commercial products.

So there is a need for a clear, automated and integrated software system for dairy farming.

Research approach/Project approach

DairySust was a European project (EIT Food) that aimed to develop a software tool to support the dairy farmer to make the right decisions in terms of diet, milking, insemination, heat stress and care during illness.

A beta version of the tool is developed that uses measurements from sensors, milking robots, environmental and weather parameters and scientific models that integrate this data to make accurate predictions.

In other words: precision agriculture with predictive models as its great advantage.

Target group and results

The results of this project are aimed primarily at dairy farms. But dairy companies also benefit from this tool as they gain a better understanding of the milk supply and its potential quality.

In order to tailor the development of the software tool as well as possible to these target groups, Flanders' FOOD and Innovatiesteunpunt organised 2 co-creation sessions. You can read more about this brainstorming exercise in our article: ‘Dairy farmer becomes data manager'.

Project partners

Management and implementation was in the hands of project coordinator Universita di Bolgona. Flanders' FOOD was responsible for the organisation and processing of the co-creation session in Flanders and the dissemination and valorisation of the project results with respect to the dairy industry.

Main project executer: Universita di Bologna (UNIBO)

  • Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences (DISTAL) & Department of Physics and Astronomy (DIFA) under the direction of Prof. Patrizia Tassinari (patrizia.tassinari@unibo.it)

Co-executers of the project: KU Leuven (KUL), Innovation Support Point (ISP) and Agricolus

  • Livestock Technology group (KUL), under the supervision of Prof. Ben Aernouts (ben.aernouts@kuleuven.be)
  • Stijn Bossin (ISP) (stijn.bossin@innovatiesteunpunt.be)
  • Andrea Fumanti (Agricolus) (a.fumanti@agricolus.com)


The project started on 1 January 2021 and has ended on 31 December 2022. The results can be requested and accessed in exchange for a fee. For more information, please contact the project manager.

DairySust on PlattelandsTV

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De resultaten van dit project richten zich in eerste instantie tot melkveebedrijven. Maar ook zuivelbedrijven hebben baat bij deze app om een beter inzicht te krijgen in de melktoevoer en de potentiële kwaliteit.


Het beheer en de uitvoering was in handen van projectcoördinator Universita di Bolgona. Flanders' FOOD was verantwoordelijk voor de organisatie en verwerking van de co-creatie sessie in Vlaanderen en de disseminatie en valorisatie van de projectresultaten richting de zuivelindustrie.

Hoofduitvoerder: Universita di Bologna (UNIBO)

  • Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences (DISTAL) & Department of Physics and Astronomy (DIFA) onder leiding van prof. Patrizia Tassinari (patrizia.tassinari@unibo.it)

Mede-uitvoerders: KU Leuven (KUL), Innovatiesteunpunt (ISP) en Agricolus

  • Livestock Technology group (KUL) onder leiding van Prof. Ben Aernouts (ben.aernouts@kuleuven.be)
  • Stijn Bossin (ISP) (stijn.bossin@innovatiesteunpunt.be)
  • Andrea Fumanti (Agricolus) (a.fumanti@agricolus.com)
Universita di bologna
KU Leuven
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More information?

Marie Demarcke
innovation manager
Ellen Martens
Ellen Martens
innovation manager