Sm@RT is an EU funded Thematic Network which aims to develop a long-term, self-sustainable European/International network to encourage the use of PLF and digital technologies across the small ruminant sector.
Why is it Important?
Sheep and goat farming is important to the rural economy of Europe and many other countries across the world, especially in areas that are unsuitable for other farming production systems, as small ruminants are efficient convertors of poor-quality grazing into high quality protein. In Europe only, there are nearly 98 million sheep and goats.
Recent advances in new tools called precision livestock farming (PLF) and digital technologies to improve farm practices, have been developed for sectors such as the dairy industry to improve farm efficiency. However, the development and uptake of any such tools has been slower in the small ruminant industry. There is therefore a need to improve awareness and knowledge transfer on the potential of these technology applications and return on investment.
What will Sm@RT do?
Sm@RT aims to improve understanding, awareness and uptake of the different technologies currently available to the small ruminant sector, and further to facilitate ‘solutions to needs’ and identification of technology gaps.
The network will stimulate knowledge exchange and cross-fertilisation amongst a wide range of stakeholders, including drawing upon the valuable input and knowledge of farmers to farmers, to help increase uptake across the industry.
An approach based on digifarms and innovative farms network?
Sm@RT will use an original interactive transdisciplinary and multi-actor approach, relying on well-equipped demonstration farms (‘digifarms’) and innovative commercial farms to foster exchanges with the small ruminant industry. This iterative step-by-step approach implicates relevant actors at the right level in the knowledge exchange process, thus boosting dissemination in a trusting environment and creating a dynamic to motivate IT companies to propose suitable PLF and digital technologies solutions tailored for the sheep and goat sectors.