General Alert (GA), a pioneer in the use of sensors and monitoring technology on farms, is working with Internet of Things (IoT) specialist 1248 to improve the welfare of pigs, poultry and other livestock and provide early warning of transmitted diseases. GA is using 1248’s new Geras IoT database and publishing solution to collect data from multiple sensors including temperature, drinking water flow and animal feed rate, humidity, CO2 concentration, ammonia and pH. GA even uses in-vivo RFID and temperature tags planted in pigs, effectively turning a pig into a ‘thing’ on the Internet of Things. Chris Dodge, IT Director at General Alert, explains how IoT is transforming the farming industry.
This will be the first time agricultural environments and the behaviour of animals has been measured on this scale and in such detail, to manage productivity, health and wellbeing and improve operational efficiency. And by monitoring on a national and international level, the technology will be able to provide early warning of diseases such as foot-and-mouth, which can cause devastating livestock and financial loss.
Like most Internet of Things solutions, the GA system uses a very large number of sensors, each collecting thousands or millions of readings via the mobile phone network or internet, which need to be stored and queried to provide meaningful and useful information. For example, a change in drinking behaviour could indicate illness or source of animal stress that can be resolved quickly.
Rising global population and standards of living are increasing the pressure on food-animal production, which leads to an increased requirement to manage animal productivity, health and wellbeing effectively. Sensors, electronics and communications technologies have reached a price point that is making it possible to deploy IoT systems that deliver real commercial benefit and Geras is a core building block of our solution. We are already working closely with veterinary, agricultural research and farm management companies and looking to expand the range of applications.
Geras is a generic, scalable IoT service – a piece of infrastructure which solves a common IoT problem based on open standards. It accepts data trickling in from many devices, stores it and then allows applications to quickly answer high-level questions from it.
Geras is designed to allow companies like General Alert to focus on what they do best – in this case, developing and deploying livestock technology. Companies looking to rapidly harness the opportunities presented by the Internet of Things need to partner with experienced providers who understand how to build scalable architectures and are committed to open standards.
1248’s founders are well known in the IoT area, with a track record of successful companies, including sensor related work, which gave us the confidence to base aspects of our infrastructure on Geras.
When people think of IoT farming is probably quite a way down the list of markets that come to mind! At Comms Business we believe the potential for M2M and IoT technologies is huge and will span a wide range of markets (if not all). Finding the right partner is absolutely crucial as they will be able to help you capitalise on opportunities you don’t know about and help you sell into your current customer base. It is important to get your head around this technology now so you can start identifying those opportunities asap.