The doctoral program ‘PLFDoc - Precision Livestock Farming’ (PLFDoc) is a collaborative project involving the TU Wien, the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria (Campus Hagenberg), and the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna.
This interdisciplinary training program offers five PhD candidates the opportunity to work as a team on contributing to a more sustainable agriculture with improved livestock farming. The research focus consists of applied basic research, particularly in the application of methods of Explainable Artificial Intelligence (XAI) as well as image and video analysis (Computer Vision, CV), to be used for monitoring livestock.
Recent advancements in sensor technologies, computer vision, and data science provide the potential for continuous, real-time monitoring of the health status and well-being of animals, both at the herd and individual level. The application of these tools thus holds the potential to detect behavioral and/or physiological deviations in animals early and to initiate appropriate countermeasures to maintain or enhance health and well-being. This is not only relevant for farmers and veterinarians but also of societal significance.
PLFDoc aims to develop new CV- and XAI-based tools, including prediction of parturition, animal identification, and estimation of individual water and feed intake in pigs and cattle. The development of these tools requires the combination of expertise from fields such as veterinary medicine, agricultural sciences, behavioral biology, data science, and engineering. The collaborative research by experts from these disciplines is therefore of utmost importance and forms the research framework for the doctoral program. As part of a team, the PhD candidates pursue common goals and learn from each other. The faculty members of the doctoral program possess the respective expertise needed for optimal personal support of the candidates and for conducting the described research activities. Due to the interdisciplinary approach, the doctoral candidates receive training in a variety of areas. The theoretical, scientific, experimental, networking, and communication skills acquired in PLFDoc are essential foundations for a successful future career in industry or academia.