Door Anne Bruinsma
Internet of Pigs
Smart sensors and the internet of things
The Internet of Things, and the smart sensors that constitute it, will have a major impact on agriculture. The integration of hardware and software will allow farmers to measure things that previously could not be measured and use this data instantly to control ongoing processes. A big move forward from human observations, pen and paper, and Excel sheets and diagrams, in the IOT age farmers can physically and intuitively interact with sensors, actuators and dashboards that highly autonomous handle high quality automated data. The fourth and final hackathon in a series of on-farm hackathons in the Netherlands was targeted at the opportunities of smart sensors and the internet of things.
FarmHack.NL: on-farm hackathons in the Netherlands
This series of on-farm hackathons that took place in the Netherlands was organised to encourage collaboration and cooperation between stakeholders for data and tech-driven innovation in agriculture. Each FarmHack hosted three dedicated teams consisting of coders, hackers and designers. The teams worked for 32 hours on specific challenges of individual farmers. The initiative was supported by Godan. Besides IoT and smart sensors, the series dealt with visualisation and automation of ‘big’ farmdata, enabling farmers to handle drone- and satellite data and manually adjust variables in order to tailor machine instructions and the challenges of operating in short supply chains.
The fourth and final FarmHack took place at a pig research centre of Wageningen University, and was targeted at the possibilities of sensors and the internet of things for making pig production more sustainable and economically viable. Will the affordable technologies such as Raspberry Pi, Arduino and Beacons help make pig farming more sustainable? How can pig farmers use sensor data to their competitive advantage? During this Farm Hack we focused on these technologies can help pig farmers move forward, both within their current farm management practices, and in connecting producers and consumers. The underlying assumption is that any return on investment in technology for an individual farmer will come from consumers willing to pay a higher price for a premium product.
Gerardo (a participant): “We are trying to identify individual pigs within a group of pigs and track the weight of these pigs individually. We are using open computer vision, which is a tool available online, free to use and it contains a lot of simple computer vision algorithms that are helping us achieve our goal”
The winning team created an app that communicates with beacons. Based on those beacons the app can estimate what activity the farmer is doing. The app registers everything, so at the end of the day the farmer sees how much time he spent on each activity and improve on his time management. They also envisioned a dashboard app that integrates data on feed, wateruse, growth and the environment, currenlty all separated data flows.
A second teams worked on automated pig weight measurement using open computer vision, which algorithms are freely available online. Currently weight measurement involves a lot of manual labour. There is a market solution available, but it’s expensive. The team hopes to reach their target audience by providing a cheap solution using open algorithms. Other teams explored the possibilities of using cheap sensors to measure and analyse local air quality, build a communication channel (VarkBook) that allows for sharing data with consumers and a Smart Boot, that allows a farmer to keep his hands free while working in the stable. The boot reads the RFID tag on the animal, and instantly key information on that animal is projected on a wall.