DinaNews 2, January 2001
Appearing twice a year, this newsletter supplies information on future events and comments on issues in informatics and other matters of interest to Dina people.
Information and Technology in Agriculture
Time: 1 - 2 March 2001
Place: Scanticon, Rebild Bakker
Chief Organizer: Prof. Anders P. Ravn, AAU
Arranged by: Dina, DANET and DSIJ
The meeting will look at the situation within information and technology
intensive agriculture: at I & T for people, I & T for animals,
I & T in machinery, and how they interact through datanets.
Three invited speakers will describe the state of the art in data collection, monitoring, and automated control and management, be it in the forest, the field or the stall. Based on tangible experience, the lectures will pinpoint the actual situation of I & T in agriculture - in Denmark and internationally.
Next, researchers, consultants and people working in industry and agriculture will be invited to exchange opinions. Parallel sessions include:
- Field and forest: data collection and monitoring;
- Field and forest: automated machinery;
- Management of livestock.
To put the concluding plenary session into perspective, it will be preceded by talks on: datanets; autonomous systems; internet commerce; the hi-tech society - and a crucial question is addressed: are we prepared to do this? Is it compatible with animal welfare and ecology?
Registration / Information online - or contact
Majbritt Drejer Nielsen, AAU
Telephone (+45) 9635 8086
Dina Calendar 2001
1/3 - 2/3 2001
Dina / DANET / DSIJ Annual Meeting 2001
26/4 - 27/4 2001
PhD Workshop: Optimization
Internet-based Advisory Systems
Exploring genetic resources
18/6 - 21/6 2001
EFITA Conference 2001
18/6 - 29/6 2001
Nordic PhD Summer School
Ås Campus, Norway
19/9 - 21/9 2001
ASAE World Conference
Iguazu Falls, Brazil
Dina Workshop: Data fusion
Dina Workshop: Automated surveillance
6/11 - 7/11 2001
PhD Workshop: Tools for visualisation
Most of the events are dealt with in more detail elsewhere in this issue. See www.dina.dk/calendar for updated info.
The IT wave: where are the universities going?
Recently two new IT-universities were established in Denmark: IT-University of Copenhagen as an independent faculty under Copenhagen Business School, and IT-Vest as a network among the universities in western Denmark. Reading their info-mails, home pages and press releases, things appear to be going well. The two ITUs are a success; teachers and students are enthusiastic. The conclusion must be that they fulfil a need which the old universities were not able or not willing to meet.
Education in all other disciplines are located at the 'old' universities: They must provide, based on IT-research, studies at various levels in a multitude of disciplines. So, what has happened to research based education? We have ITU’s that carry out research in IT, essentially working as an academy or a graduate school, and in addition we have all other research.
The challenge for the ITU’s, in particular IT-University of Copenhagen, and also for the old institutions is to use this situation to improve their research/teaching/output both in fields specialized in IT and in those where IT is an important tool. The ideal would be that curricula containing IT above a certain introductory level are developed and taught in partnership between the ITU’s and local departments.
In fact it might be useful to think of the ITU’s together with all other computer science departments as one large ‘IT department’ shared by the conglomerate of all existing universities. In order to obtain such a situation in the long run, the new ITU's will be obliged to engage in each of the numerous university research and education areas, and the other faculties will have to support this practice, morally as well as with manpower and resources. In the early days of IT, similar ideas were advocated by Peter Naur and Dines Bjørner.
These days there are voices calling for the unification of all universities, e.g. in the Copenhagen region. This may be good or bad for other reasons, but let us not fool ourselves: such formal marriages will not solve our particular problem unless there is real love, or at least mutual respect!
Dina is a network aimed at making IT and informatics useful in the agricultural
disciplines. For us at Dina, IT is essential both in research, education
and in the sector as a whole. Long ago we decided, in collaboration with
KVL and other member institutions, to take up the challenge and to collaborate
extensively with the ITU's, in particular with IT-University of Copenhagen,
and we will urge that at least within the area of IT and informatics in
agricultural sciences and at KVL, durable cooperation along these lines
... all those abbreviations
DANET - Danish Agricultural Network in Engineering and Technology - is a new, Dina inspired network. See www.agrsci.dk/jbt/danetny/
DSIJ - Danish Society for Informatics in Agriculture - is a member of EFITA. See www.dsij.dk (in Danish).
EFITA - the European Federation of Information Technology in Agriculture, Food and the Environment - organising an international conference in Montpellier, France in June 2001. See http://genie.ensam.inra.fr/efita2001/default.htm
ASAE - the Society for Engineering in Agricultural, Food and Biological Systems - invites you to a conference in Iguazu Falls, Brazil in Sept. 2001. See http://wcca.ifas.ufl.edu/
Priority Research Areas
Below is a survey of planned workshops and other activities in the five Dina “priority research areas”
Spatial Statistics in Agriculture
Morten Larsen, Dina KVL, Rasmus Waagepetersen, Dina AAU
Dina workshop 1 November 2001:
The workshop - which will be held in English unless there are no foreign participants - deals with the problem of how to combine and apply data from different sources.
Information Technology and Agricultural Engineering
Anders P. Ravn, Dina Aalborg.
(This area will be reorganised in 2001, based on the outcome of Dina’s Annual Meeting, see top of page).
Internet-based Advisory Systems in Agriculture
Jens Peter Hansen, Dina, Skejby; Ellen Juel Christensen, Dina FSL.
Dina Workshop 10. May 2001:
How can the Internet supplement - maybe entirely replace - traditional
advisory service in agriculture?
This question is addressed at the workshop which takes up the following themes from ongoing projects at DAAC and FSL: coordinating central and local information; com-munication by way of video; supporting the exchange of experience.
Model-based Decision Support Systems in Agriculture
Erik Jørgensen, Dina DJF; Allan Leck Jensen, Dina DJF.
A workshop on the subject “Automated surveillance: minimising the risk
of false alarms” will be held on 7 November 2001.
In connection with the Dina Annual Meeting (see above) a presentation will be given on research in the priority area, focusing on the connection between automated data collection in stables; methods of data filtering and moni-toring; and decision support with continuous updating of knowledge based on these observations.
At the EFITA Congress in Montpellier, France there will be a talk giving a summary of experience with the use of Bayesian methods in decision support in animal husbandry.
Bioinformatics and Quantitative Genetics
Gunter Backes, Dina Risø; Mogens Sandø Lund, Dina DJF.
Dina workshop 8. June 2001:
Exploring genetic resources - marker and sequence based biodiversity,
phylogeny and trait association.
The workshop in 2000 was successful in bringing together people who work with QTL in Denmark. We want to maintain the contacts thus established and will do so by a further discussion of the association of candidate genes and properties. Biodiversity and phylogeny are also focused upon. The workshop will describe methods as well as results from experiments. Emphasis is expected to be on animal husbandry studies but all species are welcome. The workshop will be held in English.
NOTE: At www.dina.kvl.dk/Research-areas/ you will find detailed information on the priority areas and - at any time - updated plans for workshops as well as other matters of interest.
New expert at the Research School
Per Grove Thomsen has replaced Per Christian Hansen as Dina Research School expert in numerical analysis. Both are professors at the Department of Informatics and Mathematical Modelling, DTU, Lyngby.
Dina Research School
Workshops and summer school 2001
Koldkærgård Landboskole, Århus, 26-27 April 2001
Held in Danish, the workshop presents an overview of optimization methods and goes into detail with three selected methods: LP, Genetic algorithms and Simulated annealing. Lectures are supplemented with computer exercises and a poster session. - See www.dina.dk/phd/w/workshops.htm
Summer School: “Geographical Information and Spatial Analysis in Agriculture”
Ås Campus, Norway, 18-29 June 2001
Scientific Organizer: Dr.Ing. Gerhard Skagestein, NLH, Ås, Norway.
Arranged by: Dina / Nordic In-formatics Network in the Agricultural Sciences. - See www.dina.dk/phd/s/s4/s4.htm
Workshop: Tools for visualisation
Tune Landboskole, 6-7 November 2001
Further information will appear at www.dina.dk/phd
Ecology with IT ?
According to the Oxford Dictionary, ecology is “the relation of plants and living creatures to each other and to their environment, or the study of this”. It requires some imagination to fit Information Technology, IT, in here. However, the definition has a note: “Compare ‘ecology’ and ‘environment’.” These two words are used indiscriminately and are at times confused, but they do not have the same meaning. For example, ecologically sustainable means: maintaining the natural balance of plants, animals and people; while environmentally sound products are products that help keep the world around us in a good condition.
To ecology, taken in the strict sense, IT has little to offer. It may provide text processing and data base systems for those who study the subject - and it may perhaps also present so many opportunities for entertainment that people stay at home instead of invading nature and causing harm to fragile ecosystems!
When ‘ecology’, as in the latter case, is coupled with concern for the environment, IT plays a leading role in helping us to monitor complex systems, to detect threats to their balance - and even to implement corrective actions. Specific examples of such ‘ideal’ applications of technology in precision farming are: Variable dosing of fertilizers; self-tracking row treatment devices; and milking robots that monitor the health of the animals and report on it.
But such IT applications do not pop up by themselves. In order to model, monitor and control complex systems - such as ecosystems - in this way, one must be in command of the theory that lies behind IT. Understanding the foundations is useful for a non-specialist who wishes to assess a possible application: is the use of IT feasible in the context? And what are its limitations?
The mathematical model tools could even have a wider range of application in simulating complex systems faithfully, especially considering that some phenomena in Nature prove more similar to artifacts of IT than to the mechanical systems that have inspired much of conventional mathematical modelling techniques.
/Anders P. Ravn
DinaNews is issued at KVL, Copenhagen. Editor: Mogens Flensted-Jensen
(resp.) Assistant Editor: Poul Einer Hansen, firstname.lastname@example.org
Author:webmaster. Updated: March 2001.