Saving calves thanks to a text message from mother cow

24/7 harvesting thanks to the Internet of Things

It’s pretty much the oldest industry in Dutch history: the agricultural sector . However, the oldest does not mean the most old-fashioned. The agricultural industry is a pioneer in the field of high tech. From a pregnant cow sending a text message that she is going to give birth to the farmer to hydrometers that determine remotely whether the land needs irrigating or not.  

The agricultural sector is often faced with a lack of time. For example, it truly is a race against the clock to harvest fresh vegetables as quickly as possible and to ensure they end up in the the freezer units of the factory. The continued running of canning machines may also present technical problems sometimes. 

Carry on working 24/7
Ploeger, a producer of modern agricultural machines, collaborates with VodafoneZiggo to integrate the Internet of Things (IoT) in this process. Many agricultural machines only come into action for a small part of the year. “Take the harvesting of peas, for example. That lasts just under two months", says Niels Havermans, Director of Sales and Marketing at Ploeger. “Specific harvesters are used 24/7 in that period."

That is why agricultural machines are often equipped with sensors that transmit data to the farmer 24/7. In this way, they not only pass on how much they are harvesting, but also the state of the machine itself, so that the length of time that they are non-operational is reduced. Ploeger applied IoT for the first time to harvesters for peas. That wasn’t always easy. "We make special machines. Therefore, they need special sensors. We often have to produce those ourselves", says Cees van Beek, Technical Director at Ploeger. "Vodafone takes care of the worldwide connectivity. What is so great is that those parties work with tried-and-tested technology. This means that we did not have to run a pilot first, but that we could just get to work”, continues Cees.

Texting cows 
IoT also provides solutions for livestock breeding. One out of every 14 calves dies at birth. This can be very dangerous to the cow giving birth. That is why it’s the farmer’s duty to monitor a cow 24/7 if he suspects that she is going to give birth soon. This impedes other activities. Many farmers know that pregnant cows move their tails in a distinctive way  before their delivery. This is how Emmet Savage and his two co-founders arrived at a brilliant concept: Moocall. “We asked ourselves: how can we monitor those movements remotely to ensure that the farmer is warned in time”, according to Savage. “Because we already knew: if the farmer was present during the delivery, that would substantially improve the calves’ chance of survival.”

600 pieces of data per second
A sensor attached to the tail of the cow collects 600 pieces of data per second. Through typical tail movements, this sensor can identify contractions and send this information to the farmer or vet. They subsequently receive a text message with the notification that the calf is about to be born. In collaboration with VodafoneZiggo, Moocall has managed to perfect this technology and centralise it on a platform. Thanks to VodafoneZiggo’s global reach, they are currently active in 40 countries. 

No more farmer on a tractor
Thanks to IoT, farmers no longer have to see whether the land can be fertilised or irrigated from their tractor. A great example are internet-connected hydrometers that you can place on the land. In this way, farmers can see in real-time whether the ground is too wet or too dry. Is it necessary to irrigate or would they rather wait another day?

Less intervention from the farmer and more automation with the help of IoT ensures a higher productivity and less labour costs. In this way, companies can work more sustainably and quicker. VodafoneZiggo’s connectivity can ensure that IoT is implemented in more fields, while innovative companies work on new solutions.