Dairy farming is considered as one the core functions of agriculture for long-term production of milk. Large scale dairy farms are utilizing modern and innovative technology for automating the milking system and maintaining the health parameters of the cattle. Today, dairy farmers focus more on precision farming by monitoring and developing a database for information provisioning and capturing competitive market data. To ensure sustainability and remain competitive in the market, dairy farmers need to monitor variety of data sources like cattle feeding, calving, nutrition, insemination, and the process of milk production. However, they also face several challenges such as:
Impact of IoT on smart farming
Today, Internet of Things (IoT) is making a significant impact on milk production. Global milk production to meet the demands of the growing population needs to be enhanced with technology. With this technology, farmers can enhance and improve several dairy related activities such as ascertaining the right time to milk cows, increasing the shelf life of the milk and so on.
In dairy farming, the Internet of Things (IoT) plays a crucial in the monitoring of resources by connecting multiple and heterogeneous objects in mixed dairy farms (which produce milk from cattle and cultivate feed grain for livestock), such as buildings, machinery and vehicles or even living organisms like cattle. The IoT Sensor and Edge Computing (EC) enable resource monitoring and traceability in the value chain, allowing producers to optimize processes, provide the origin of the produce and guarantee its quality to consumers.
IoT technology leverages multiple sensors for collecting various data points and data transmission with low power and bandwidth for communication. Adaption of smart sensors and techniques (data sensing methods like pressure sensing, volumetric sensing, sensing schedules etc.) help to improve resource efficiency, are environment-friendly, enable transparency and data security. These techniques maintain a real-time view of the milk levels, monitor the health of the cattle, warehouse management, and safe transportation access.
IoT platforms and integrated AI engines, gateways, LPWA networks and smart sensors push the industry into a real revolution. The latest technologies are being introduced to automate many of the processes. IoT and data-driven techniques are creating greater opportunities for smart dairy farming. IoT can support farmers with wearable sensor devices to keep them aware of the status of every animal. The sensor-based system can effectively and correctly detect the illness of the cattle before it affects the milk production. IoT serves as an important foundation for cattle breeding by tracking real-time cattle information such as activity, temperature, and pulse. This crucial information can then be used to conduct a thorough analysis to determine cattle oestrus. Increase in milk yield, reduced labor and medicine treatment costs, and increase 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.
IoT and AI based technological methods can be used to minimize the negative factors and enhance those factors that positively affect the production. For instance, an artificial intelligence (AI) model developed based on IoT sensors in milking systems can provide data to help farmers determine when the cattle should be milked or to help the farmer change the feeding pattern. These data can be further enhanced to maintain quality of milk and help to understand production. The state of the art framework by combining IoT sensor, IoT platform and AI solutions should be focused on different aspects of smart dairy farming to assist the farmers increase the milk yield by using different techniques and innovation.
Figure 1: Outlines how IoT can be used for various touch points
The technological adoption of IoT and AI based approach helps in creating innovative methodologies for production (milk yield) and the process of dairy farming. Process innovation can be different for different sets of activities that are performed at several levels in a smart dairy farm. In a dairy farm, the milking process is viewed as a singular process; however, there are several activities that are performed in the farm such as feeding, cow monitoring, and preserving milk. The intervention of IoT can be in different processes and procedures like the feed system to sense the hunger needs of the cows and automatically feed them. It can also proactively monitor automatic heat detection that will assist in reproduction. Assessing health and monitoring cows for disease detection and prevention will help the farmer to locate any animal that needs medical attention.
Smart dairy farming includes real time sensors that collect data from cows with the help of wearable smart collars, machine learning data analysis, and cloud-based data centers that manage data and support the farmer in order to manage quality of dairy products as depicted in Figure 2.
IoT and AI technology adoption can play a significant role in the dairy industry to simplify the operations for milk producers and meet the increasing demand for quality dairy products. The technological advancement in IoT can help minimize environmental issues, decrease the use of resources, and enhance animal health by using advanced sensing and data analyzing technologies.
IoT based technology can be used in farm management to reduce costs and make operations efficient. Here are some key outcomes:
Health monitoring: Monitoring and tracking of cattle health data like heart rate and other vital signs of a cow can help farmers in early diagnosis of health issues and provide correct medication.
Monitoring of anomalies in milk production: It is essential to understand cattle behavior and milk production by monitoring continuously and comparing the regular patterns. Each animal can be tagged with a unique identification number to help track the animal’s production and understand their health patterns.
Tracking of automatic water and food supply:
Technology driven future for the dairy industry
New-age smart techniques using IoT devices will help farmers with increased milk production, advanced monitoring of cattle health & anomaly detection, thereby streamlining the business and processes. Although smart dairy farming using IoT gives various features to a common farmer, it may be a costly affair at the beginning; yet offers the promise of cost recovery with longer usage. IoT helps in efficient monitoring of the feeding and drinking method which can lead to better nutrition of cows, and more milk production. The system with overall architecture, better adaptation of technology, and versatile design can make IoT-based farming more efficient.
Sampath Kumar Rangadurai
Sr. Solution Architect - IoT, Cloud & Infrastructure Services, Wipro
Sampath has over 22 years of experience and plays a key role in presales and technical consultancy for IoT / Smart City initiatives. He has extensive experience in IoT/OT technologies across multiple industries including Engineering, Construction, Oil & Gas, Retail, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Logistics and Transportation.