Over the past 20 years, the aquaculture industry has seen annual production tripled while feed prices also have risen dramatically.
This presents farmers a perennial challenge since feed costs account for a majority of their operational overhead. Farmers must walk a tight line: underfeeding their fish risks lower growth rates and slower time to market, while overfeeding increases costs and potentially harms the environment.
New data analytics technologies such as IoT devices and machine learning offer farmers a solution to improve their feeding operations.
Recently, aquaculture technology provider UMITRON launched in Singapore what it claims to be the world’s first real-time ocean-based fish appetite detection system. Called Fish Appetite Index or FAI, it uses efficient machine learning and image analysis techniques to extract relevant data from video streams that can then be used to accurately quantify fish appetite.
FAI software has already been rolled out to existing customers to optimize their feeding operations.
"Today, there are many companies developing machine-learning algorithms for a variety of industries but only testing them under ideal conditions. The UMITRON FAI on the other hand is already being embraced by our existing customers at their ocean-based farm sites where it operates under real world conditions. It might be difficult for some of our potential customers to completely trust artificial intelligence at first, but FAI is an important tool that can be used to increase productivity and reduce waste," said Masahiko Yamada, managing director of UMITRON.
Bringing tech-oriented innovations to aquaculture
UMITRON is a Singapore and Japan based deep-tech company whose aim is to solve worldwide food and environmental problems by empowering aquaculture through technology.
By using IoT, satellite remote sensing, and artificial intelligence (AI), the company helps farmers improve farm efficiency, manage environmental risks, and in turn increase business revenues.
It’s newly-launched FAI algorithm takes in the same visual information that humans would and then scores fish appetite and presents it in an easy to understand chart. When used in tandem with a smart feeder such as UMITRON CELL, the feed time intervals and amounts can be automatically adjusted with minimal human interference.
Farm operators can deploy FAI to fine-tune their feeding schedules, ensuring fish are always satiated. This is easily done via their smartphones with the UMITRON app, where they can check and remotely adjust feed settings based on the FAI feedback.
Growing the partner ecosystem
UMITRON executives said FAI benefits farmers by reducing wasted feed, improving profitability as well as environmental sustainability. FAI in combination with technology such as CELL allows farmers to stay onshore during dangerous weather conditions or holidays while still keeping a close eye on their fish stocks. Furthermore, it reduces the need for every employee to be an expert at feeding and instead frees workers to focus on other tasks that improve fish welfare.
"Our appetite analysis approach is being developed with customer feedback in mind.
UMITRON will continue to develop similar value-added software services that can be automatically rolled out to our existing customer base. Also, we are open to developing other practical applications after discussions with potential customers or equipment partners," said Takuma Okamoto, CTO of UMITRON.
UMITRON is looking for partners interested in using FAI for species such as Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, European sea bass, and gilthead sea bream. Similarly, UMITRON is looking for feeding system manufacturing partners who wish to utilize data analysis software such as FAI to improve their current products.