Cermaq deploys fourth version of iFarm project

Salmon producer Cermaq has said it is now pressing ahead with the fourth version of its iFarm project in Vesterålen, Nordland County in Norway. It is the same location where version two was carried out.

iFarm is a concept based on artificial intelligence and machine learning, with state-of-the-art monitoring technology.

The company said the reason for the iFarm’s long overdue development process has been to allow time for  experiences and learning along the way to contribute to improvements for the next phase. The aim is for the project to be able to test out an improved version of iFarm in each phase.

Cermaq’s operations manager in Vesterålen, Sten Viggo Hansen said: “It is exciting to be involved in innovation and technology development. We know that this fourth version has a number of changes compared to the second version that we also ran, so it will be interesting to see how it will be operated this time.”

Cermaq believes that by using artificial intelligence and machine learning, it can identify each individual fish in a cage and give it its own follow-up and health record. The iFarm project, which will develop individual-based aquaculture, is planned to last five years.

The company said: “With the help of iFarm, we can bring about a shift from population-based follow-up to individual-based care in aquaculture. This will have a major impact on fish health and welfare.”

The current project is a collaboration between Cermaq and the technology company BioSort. Cermaq has been awarded four development licences for the iFarm project.

In testing the first version of iFarm, Cermaq and BioSort were keen to establish an understanding of how iFarm affects fish behaviour and gain basic learning about the iFarm construction.

On the second version of iFarm, a lot of work was done with alternative versions of the sensor housing that the fish swim through, to explore how the operation needed to be adapted to the iFarm system. Examples of this were achieving efficient and good feeding of the fish under the system’s groove roof, and ensuring efficient handling operations.

For version three, which is still in progress, the company is focusing most attention on the sensors that register the fish, on data collection and machine learning, and on further development of the mechanism that sorts out fish, with transport of sorted fish to the surface for follow-up.

In the fourth version of iFarm, the project will focus mostly on operational improvements and feed factor improvements in machine learning and on how equipment in the barn performs. At the same time, Cermaq and BioSort will test third generation sorters.

Cermaq’s iFarm project manager for Karl Fredrik Ottem, said: “This fourth postponement is actually one more postponement than what was set up in the original project plan, where three postponements and three versions of iFarm were taken into account.

“In relation to the goals set for the project, we are on track. However, we have had some operational challenges along the way in terms of growth and feed factor. At the same time… operations such as lice removal have been extensive precisely because of the iFarm equipment in the cages.”

He added: “Although this is not defined in the original project objectives of the development permits, it is important for the iFarm concept to succeed in achieving good growth and feed factor. That’s why we wanted to take the project further with a fourth postponement in order to gain more knowledge and see if we can get further in these areas.

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