Could Agritech VR Increase Cow Milk Production? Russia Thinks So
Yes you did read that headline correctly. A group of pioneering Russian dairy farmers are experimenting with virtual reality. Their theory is that agritech VR could have the potential to help cows to produce more milk. The Ministry of Agriculture in Russia is actually piloting this VR scheme. They have even created these specially adapted virtual reality headsets that can be strapped to the face of a cow. You couldn’t make this up. Once hooked up to the VR headset the cow is then shown a calm and peaceful landscape with endless rolling fields. To be fair as mad as it sounds if I was the cow, I think I’d rather take the VR experience.
The whole theory behind this was that by giving the cows better “environmental conditions”, the cow’s health would be improved and as such the quality and quantity of milk that they would produce would increase. In this case however the improved conditions would be provided through a virtual reality. The cows probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference and as such will truly experience the calmer surroundings as if they were actually there experiencing it.
Apparently, they assembled a full-on team of people to work on these cow VR headsets. An experienced virtual reality developer was brought in, along with veterinarians, as well as several consultants which honestly seems a bit overkill to me but hey the result was an agritech VR headset perfectly shaped around the structural features of a cow’s face.
There have been many studies on the vision of cattle, and they have all shown that cows tend to perceive the red end of the spectrum better and they tend to perceive the greener and bluer tones much weaker. The virtual reality developers were able to design a one of a kind summer field simulation that was tailored to the cow’s vision requirements. The results to no surprise were genuinely positive. I just can’t help feeling that anything would be better than a Russian diary farm. According to the results there was a noticeable reduction in anxiety and that there showed an overall increase in mood for the herd of cows that were using the VR headsets. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Agriculture have stated that it is still too early at this point to accurately determine whether or not this agritech VR experiment will result in an increase in milk production, however the outlook seems to be pretty positive so far. And at least if the whole milk production thing doesn’t work out then the cows can get a few games of Trover Saves the Universe in instead.
Whilst agreeably ethically questionable, this is probably one of the more interesting uses of VR in agritech that I have heard about and leave that whole space wide open. Prior to these cow VR headsets, the best thing I had heard about was virtual crop scouting using drones and VR headsets. They can get access to all this data without ever having to actually touch the ground. This agritech VR can really help to reduce the amount of manpower that would typically be required.