Smart farming

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NB-IoT: The solution for smart dairy farming

Dairy farmers are in urgent need of a cost-effective network with massive connectivity, wide coverage, low power consumption, and stable performance to enable modern cow oestrus detection.

This is according to China Telecom and Huawei. These two technology companies therefore launched the "Connected Cow, Cash Cow’ project to improve dairy farms in China.

Better oestrus detection

China’s dairy farming industry is marked by 2 characteristics:

  1. a significant lack of technological capabilities
  2. huge growth potential

As physiological cycles vary for individual cows, successful breeding and maximum profitability requires that dairy farms can identify the oestrus period correctly. To improve the efficiency of large-scale farming, dairy farms are applying tech like smart cow collars to monitor vital signs in real time and to optimise oestrus detection and overall breeding results. China Telecom and Huawei also stepped into this and developed smart wearable collars that are used to monitor the temperature and pulse of cows. Monitoring information is sent to the cloud through NB-IoT (narrowband Internet of Things) base stations. Users can easily access this information, which is viewable online via PCs and mobile phones.

NB-IoT offers real-time cow information such as activity, temperature, and pulse. Photo: Huawei
NB-IoT offers real-time cow information such as activity, temperature, and pulse. Photo: Huawei

Real-time cow information

As a representative of next-generation technologies, NB-IoT serves as an important foundation for smart cow breeding. NB-IoT offers real-time cow information such as activity, temperature, and pulse. This crucial information can then be used to conduct a thorough big data analysis to determine cow oestrus. Increases in milk yield, reduced labour and medicine treatment costs, and increases in the revenue of dairy farms are the most exciting benefits of this technology. This technology has also received close attention from dairy product enterprises and animal breeding initiatives.

The solution from China Telecom and Huawei features the following advantages:

  • Low power consumption, massive connection, and wide coverage. This solution uses NB-IoT as its core communications technology and naturally can enjoy a myriad of inherent advantages accompanying such technological advancements. This solution allows for less power consumption of sensors than traditional methods, enabling a single battery to operate for over 5 years. A single NB-IoT base station supports network connection ranging in the thousands. In addition, this solution can ensure signal coverage over a much larger considerable area compared to other existing options.
  • Stable device performance. The NB-IoT sensors used in this solution can withstand severe outdoor temperatures ranging from –30°C to 45°C. This is able to meet high-level durability and shielding requirements of ingress protection 65 (IP65), describing protection of electrical devices against water, dust, and physical damage.
  • Cost-effectiveness. As long as there is NB-IoT network coverage, neither dedicated power supply lines nor RFID base stations are required. Therefore, line and node maintenance is not involved, helping to limit future O&M costs.

Improving economic return

According to Huawei, the current business model helps reduce the initial investment pressure for dairy farm owners, deepens the cooperation between the industry and the operator, and effectively improves economic return, while promoting information-based, smart development of animal husbandry. In the future, the data of the cloud-based monitoring system used in the Connected Cow solution will provide related industries with important support, for example, source-tracing of milk quality. Data monetisation will drive future decisions for operators to transform their business models and develop more innovative services.

[Source: Huawei]

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