University of Arkansas building smart poultry research farm

The new Poultry Science Smart Farming Research Facility will help students and scientists at the University of Arkansas advance broiler nutrition research.

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Jessica Wesson | University of Arkansas
Jessica Wesson | University of Arkansas

The new Poultry Science Smart Farming Research Facility will help students and scientists at the University of Arkansas advance broiler nutrition research.

“The foundation of the facility is technology,” said David Caldwell, PhD, director, Center for Poultry Science, and professor and head, Department of Poultry Science, University of Arkansas.

“It will allow us to incorporate a lot more data collected in real time, and we’re excited about that aspect.”

Designed to be cutting edge, the facility will be equipped with technologically advanced, commercially relevant environmental controls and rearing equipment, he added.

These smart technologies, including computer vision and machine learning, will help researchers execute smart-based strategies to better address emerging industry needs.

“I also think there’s more to this facility than just research. It’s a good opportunity for us to train students and will enhance our ability to put our undergraduate and graduate students in a modern facility that gives them access to a lot of equipment that we haven’t had access to before,” Caldwell said.

Broiler nutrition and big data research

Construction on the $1 million research facility began in 2020 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

“The pandemic really slowed us down,” Caldwell explained. “We ran into some unforeseen circumstances associated with the pandemic.”

One side of the facility will contain rearing equipment and sensor and data acquisition technology to allow a big data approach to poultry research. The other half will focus on broiler nutrition research.

“We would not have been able to build this exciting research and technology facility without the generous support and commitment of numerous stakeholders, including Aviagen, Reliable Poultry, Diversified Ag, MTech Systems, D&F Equipment, Tyson Foods and the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station,” Caldwell said. “We greatly value their commitment in this way to our program.”

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