Agriculture has been seemingly immune to most forms of digital technology, but a new product developed by Danish process engineer and technology entrepreneur Keld Florczak may have big implications for the cattle industry.
In 2008, an investor asked Florczak if he could use technology to track a cow’s location within one meter.
This request came as a result of the Danish Cattle Federation’s requirement for dairy farmers to submit regular reports about the condition of their cattle. If a cow does not return to the barn at night, the farmer must search for it. This manual process can cost the farmer precious time and is highly inefficient.
When confronted with this problem, Florczak thought to attach RFID tags to each cow.
RFID tags use wireless communication to register their location with a mobile receiver. The U.S. army currently employs this technology to monitor soldiers during training exercises.
Florczak modified the RFID tags to send a radio signal every few seconds, which allows hundreds of tags to register in real time over large distances.
Florczak expanded this technology and built up an infrastructure. He calls this system CowView.
CowView goes beyond location monitoring. It can find subtle behavioral patterns and abnormalities that would be difficult to detect through observation.
For instance, the CowView can identify if a heifer is sleeping longer than usual or feeding away from the rest of the herd, which may be signs of sickness. If a heifer is more active than usual, she is likely in heat, and the CowView will send a report to the farmer.
This technology allows farmers to pinpoint certain cows that require attention. This allows farmers to manage their time more efficiently, and may, as a result, lead to larger herds.
Florczak’s company, Smarter Farmer, has been acquired by the German company GEA. Florczak hopes to expand CowView into the UK’s cattle market and continue developing more farming technology.