Measure, Model, Fix – Big Data’s Role in Animal Ag

Jamie Johansen

bivi-prrs-16-49-editedWhen the term ‘big data’ is used in agriculture, we generally think crops. However, we are hearing it more and more in animal agriculture circles. “Big data and models: Are they really useful in disease management?” turned the conversation towards swine health at the 2016 North American PRRS Symposium as Dr. Jim Lowe, University of Illinois, took the stage during Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedia, Inc.’s sponsored session.

After working to control PRRS for 20 years, Dr. Lowe began to question if there were other ways to look at it. Engineers work with complicated systems at a number of levels. Dr. Lowe simply asked how they solve problems, “We teach engineers to think in this pattern, which is measure what the system is doing, model it up so you can understand and try your interventions and then go fix it.”

Vets are trained to solve the problem today. We naturally want things fixed quickly. As PPRS has become more complicated, Dr. Lowe said taking a broad approach has shown value. But how do we leverage the data in animal health?

“To make that happen, there are four steps. We have to think about how we aggregate the data and how do we build those collaborations to allow the aggregation to happen. Then, how do we use sophisticated modern tools to do the analysis. Finally, how do we synthesize the information and give it back to producers in a way they can drive decisions by it.”

In my complete interview with Dr. Lowe hear more about the use of practical, simple solutions that can be driven to the field today and changes made tomorrow. Interview with Dr. Jim Lowe, University of Illinois

View and download photos from the event here: 2016 BIVI PRRS Seminar Photo Album

Agribusiness, Animal Health, Audio, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pork, Research, Swine