June 19, 2023
AI system developed to evaluate beef quality in Fukushima, Japan
The Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre in Japan has made significant progress in beef quality assessment with the development of an artificial intelligence (AI)-based system, The Japan Times reported.
This innovative approach allows for the evaluation of beef quality while cattle are still being raised, providing early and accurate assessments that can help determine the optimal timing for beef shipments and reduce associated costs.
Traditionally, beef quality assessments were conducted based on the fat layer and meat color of slaughtered cattle. The introduction of the AI system enables continuous monitoring and evaluation throughout the cattle's growth period.
Meguru Hara of the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Center's livestock research institute highlighted the importance of this development in revitalising the region's beef products, which faced challenges following the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
The grading of beef products relies on factors such as the amount and quality of meat per animal. Previously, ultrasound technology was utilized in some cases to assess cattle conditions before shipment, aiming to improve meat quality.
Hara noted that this method depended on the expertise of individuals, leading to variations in assessments. To address this, the Fukushima government, in collaboration with Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine and other stakeholders, initiated the development of an AI-based early beef assessment system in 2019.
The AI system was trained using ultrasound images of cattle provided by the prefectural government and other partners. It analysed the images to assess the quality of the meat and identify potential room for growth.
The early assessment system is expected to offer various benefits to livestock farmers, including reduced feed costs and improved turnover rates in cattle barns. By enabling early identification of cattle with limited growth potential and facilitating preparations for competitive exhibitions, the system enhances operational efficiency.
Isao Inukai, a cattle-fattening farmer in the city of Date, Fukushima Prefecture, said he was satisfied with the AI evaluation system. Previously, Inukai shipped animals in the order they were purchased as calves. With the AI system, he can now rearrange the order based on the data provided, optimising the shipping process.
Fukushima beef prices have faced challenges since the nuclear disaster in 2011. The introduction of the AI system has the potential to enhance the region's brand power by offering high-quality cattle consistently and achieving recognition at competitive exhibitions.
- The Japan Times