Fujitsu Bets On Connected Cow Technology To Transform Farms One by One - From Forbes.com
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 24: Spanish Intern Isabel checks plants in one of the Underground tunnels at 'Growing Underground' in Clapham on October 24, 2016 in London, England. The former air raid shelters covering 65,000 square feet lie 120 feet under Clapham High street and are home to 'Growing Underground', the UKs first underground farm. The farms produce includes pea shoots, rocket, wasabi mustard, red basil and red amaranth, pink stem radish, garlic chives, fennel and coriander, and supply to restaurants across London including Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr's 'Le Gavroche'. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
The pairing of technology with farming and agriculture continues to shape and drive the agricultural industry. From connected farms and soil-moisture sensors to autonomous tractors and livestock wearables, the industry is changing the way it farms.
Farmers are using more advanced technology than just five years ago including satellite mapping, GPS controlled machinery, predictive analytics, drones, and robotics. Internet of Things (IoT) solutions allow farmers to convert raw data collected by sensors into valuable business insight. This is big money too. AgFunder reported that there was around $405 million invested in Precision Ag companies in 2016.
All of this, however, is driven by need. By 2050, the world will need to produce 70% more food than it did ten years ago to feed the population.
James Maynard, Offering Management Director, Global IoT & Innovation, Fujitsu says farming is increasingly attracting expertise from beyond the traditional farming industry.
"Access to digital and technology skills has the potential to revolutionize the way we approach agriculture and ensure high quality and reduced overhead costs. While farming and high-end technology are sometimes not associated with one another, it is encouraging to see the industry adopt new technologies to become an integrated part of their day-to-day activities," said Maynard.
Fujitsu has recently invested in what they call, the connected cow. The cows wear an internet connected pedometer that enables the farmers to track their cows for the optimum time of artificial insemination. The device looks for an increase in walking activity from cows, which is a sign of a cow entering oestrus, which is when a cow is at its optimum level for getting pregnant.
The pedometer monitors the steps the cow takes in a 24-hour period, sending it to the cloud, analyzing the data, and accurately identifying when oestrus starts. This data goes to the farmers and lets them know when they can artificially inseminate the cow in the optimal time frame. The success rate of artificially inseminating cows raises from 44 percent to 90 percent when using the connected cow technology.
This is important because improving the detection of oestrus increases the number of calves being born and milk produced. This positions the farmers to be more profitable and addresses the increasing demand for meat and dairy products from consumers.
“That’s why we recognize the importance of a marrying technology and farming or agriculture. The future of farming lies within precision farming and collecting and analyzing big data to maximize efficiency," said Maynard. "As well as connected cow devices, Fujitsu has also been looking at how to use technology to improve the growth of vegetation, for instance, the production of low-potassium lettuce in a factory in Japan.”
Maynard believes that innovating one farm at a time has a much wider impact on the global food supplies.
"Precision farming and agriculture can help goes far beyond boosting a business’ profit or meeting-short term monetary goals. The demand for more food will not slow down, and intensive farming practices must be revolutionized."
Fujitsu's connected cow technology has been implemented on 64 farms throughout Japan, Korea, Poland, Romania, and Turkey. The University of Reading is trailing Fujitsu’s pedometers on 25 cows at the university farm. The devices are connected to an on-farm receiver, which transmits data to a cloud service. Data is collected on an hourly basis, providing alerts to when a cow is in oestrus.
Jennifer Kite-Powell is a writer who looks at the intersection of technology and science with art & culture, health, environment and industry. You can follow her on Twitter @jennalee.
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