FARMERS are increasingly looking to adopt smart technology to monitor livestock, housing and even crop growth – but linking data across platforms has proven a barrier – until now.
In a breakthrough which will benefit the whole industry and help farmers to improve efficiencies across the board, Glas Data has succeeded in creating a platform on which farmers can view all of their information and use it to improve decision-making. “We’ve been working on it for three years and the technology is really catching up now,” says Colin Phillipson, co-founder of Glas Data.
“We’re simplifying it, bringing all of the data into one place so that farmers can view it.”
Glas Data has been working alongside Ver Facil, which has adapted about 60 sensor devices for use in agriculture as part of a research project supported by grants, research and graduates through Agri-Tech Cornwall.
These sensors use LoRaWAN (long range, low power) technology), which means they can be deployed around the farm without 4G or 5G connectivity or heavy batteries.
“LoRaWAN is ideal for large areas – you just need one antenna on the farm, and batteries will last between three and 10 years without being replaced,” explains Rob Cartwright, founder of Ver Facil.
The sensors measure everything from housing environments to bulk milk tank temperature, and can even be used inside a cow’s rumen in the form of the Moonsyst Smart bolus, which monitors temperature, pH and activity even when the cow is out in the field.
To demonstrate the value of these sensors and data platform, Ver Facil has installed them in Duchy College’s Future Farm, a research facility which will house 200 dairy cows and signpost the way for producers to improve technology, efficiencies and welfare.
The Moonsyst Smart rumen bolus is able to predict a cow’s heat cycle, while also monitoring for lame or sick cows, and those which are about to calve.
“We are also installing sensors to monitor the bulk milk tank temperature, the refrigerant cooling plant status, barn light levels, CO2, temperature and humidity,” says Rob.
“By monitoring the cows, the pasture they graze, their water intake and indoor environmental conditions we aim to improve milk yield and cow welfare.” In addition, the project will install two extra antennae to test the ability to triangulate the cows’ location – enabling the mapping of milk yield against grazing – and will monitor electric fencing and water pipes for supply outages.”