VistaMilk is a research science project with the aim of improving every step of the dairy supply chain. To achieve this, research incorporates studies of pasture-based dairy production, electronic animal monitoring, milk processability and state-of-the-art analytical techniques backed by cutting-edge technology.

Read more about the VistaMilk project here, or visit the official VistaMilk website here.

What is ICBF's role in VistaMilk?

Data is the lifeblood of the VistaMilk project, which leverages data from on-farm sources, industry, and research bodies. This data is used to fuel research and to deliver value back to the dairy industry, from large national agri-food companies to the dairy farmers themselves.

ICBF exists to benefit farmers through the application of science and technology. Its national cattle database includes information about the breeding, life and performance of each nationally-registered dairy cow, recorded by farmers and industry partners.

Illustration showing where ICBF's data comes from

ICBF considers data security and data privacy to be of the utmost importance. On-farm data is never provided to a researcher unless the farmer has given permission. Any data that we provide to a researcher is anonymised, so its source cannot be traced.

With its technical expertise as well as its huge volume of data and experience in managing it responsibly, ICBF is well-suited to its role as data facilitator within the VistaMilk project.

The VistaMilk Research Data Portal

One of ICBF’s responsibilities as data facilitator is to create a fit-for-purpose data sharing solution for the project.

To achieve this, we developed the VistaMilk Research Data Portal, an online software platform allowing researchers to store their data in a central location, and share it securely with their colleagues within the project. Underpinned by established data governance safeguards, the platform is key to ensuring the outcomes of the VistaMilk project are harnessed, delivered and measured.

Each VistaMilk researcher has an account with which to log into the Portal. Here, they can create a “Project” to represent their research. Data files that are used in the course of a researcher’s work, or created as a result of it, can be uploaded to the Portal and associated with their Project.

The Portal is designed with the intention of boosting collaboration. If a researcher chooses, they can give any other VistaMilk member access to their data. This presents an opportunity to collaborate easily. The diverse expertise of multiple individuals or teams may provide new insight into a particular data set. Similarly, combining the results of separate studies of the same data may create new value or more useful outcomes.

In addition, the Portal also catalogues all data uploaded to it. Any data file uploaded is listed in an index accessible to any VistaMilk researcher working at the same research institute as the uploader. The title of the data file, its related project, and any accompanying information the uploader provided is displayed.

Keeping each researcher’s data secure means this data isn’t available for review or download, but is listed to make other users aware of the data that is available. If a user spots something that is interesting or relevant to their research, they can reach out to the owner of the data to collaborate with them.