Automatic Image Analysis
Rapid Diagnostics for Endemic Animal Diseases
The AutoFEC Group are proud to announce that they have been awarded a research and development grant from the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, on Rapid Diagnostics for Endemic Animal Diseases.
The AutoFEC Group is a consortium of research and industry organisations based in the south-west of England, comprising Arrow Labs Limited and the University of Bristol. The project aims to develop automated methods for counting parasite eggs in samples from grazing livestock at the pen-side. The technology will offer rapid diagnoses and advise farmers on appropriate approaches to treatment and prevention of parasitic disease.
The project runs from 2013 until 2016 and aims to transform the way that parasitic infections are managed in livestock. Outcomes will benefit farmers by reducing the costs of treatment for livestock and the loss of production due to infection and drug resistance. In turn, this could help to limit increases in food prices and help protect food security, while also decreasing drug residues in food and the environment. Further potential benefits include enhanced health and welfare of grazing animals, reduced greenhouse gas emissions through efficient productivity, and improved viability of organic farming.
Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), Innovate UK brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit www.innovateuk.org
Our proposal outlines a new and revolutionary system that aims to change the way that farmers administer treatment to their animals. In particular we focus on the treatment of parasitic worms.
Parasitic worms pose a major challenge to the health and productivity of grazing livestock, and are controlled by frequent adminstration of anthelmintic drugs. This high frequency of treatment causes the development of drug resistance. Increasingly, targeted approaches to de-worming are required, based on levels of infection and known drug effectiveness.
The most flexible and useful test for worm infection is the Faecal Egg Count (FEC), in which numbers of eggs are manually counted following extraction from faecal samples. However, this is time consuming and therefore expensive, and relies on highly trained staff in remote laboratories. On-farm FEC kits have met with some success but are undermined by operator error and time demands.
Our proposal aims to develop an automated FEC system, building on recent advances in image analysis provided by Arrow Labs, to identify and count eggs in faecal samples at the pen-side, and return results to farmers and owners quickly enough to influence treatment decisions. Automated FEC results will be linked to online decision support systems, making use of serial FEC results and management data provided by the farmer, as well as climate data. This aims to provide farmers with actionable information for how and when is best to treat their animals.
Intended beneficiaries include:
Our Team's Key Skills
Our Technical Director studied advanced mathematical computation techniques at the University of Oxford.
Fluid and intuitive interfaces for both web, desktop and mobile applications.
Our Project Director has over 30 years of expertise in military and aerospace electronics.
Proficient in integrating a multitude of hardware and software components.
Highly experienced in efficiently managing tasks, scheduling, project spend and resource coordination.
All of the skills needed to make our business run smoothly, to enable us to advance our technology.