Expansion of the FarmCo IoT infrastructure
The advent of technologically internet enabled devices has found a space within the agricultural sector and more specifically within the dairy farming sector. Internet of Things, which is often referred to as IoT is a conglomeration of ubiquitous objects and devices that are able to relay information amongst themselves via an internet enabled platform. IoT takes advantage of the existing Internet Protocol addressing of IPv6 which is a 128-bit addressing scheme as opposed to the previous addressing scheme of IPv4 which is a 32-bit addressing scheme.
A typical dairy farm has various units with designated tasks to perform and manage. FarmCo is non-exceptional when it comes to this management sectors too just as the rest of the associated companies. Some of these management areas include: waterways, effluent systems, water use, land management, nutrient management and climate change among others. However, currently FarmCo has identified a few key areas that needs substantial input and either introduction or restructuring of the IoT infrastructure to help in the growth of the company and for the well being of the dairy cattle. These areas of concern include:
This report therefore addresses these issues that the FarmCo company wants fixed by proposing technologically related solutions that are viable to each concern and is practical based. The use of IoT is largely highlighted in this report and the contributions that it can make to help overcome the listed concerns and provisions. A fully fledged IoT ecosystem leverages the management of physical participation in the farm routine via shifting the focus totally to monitoring, which can also be done intelligently through triggering of alert messages whenever the established threshold is not met.
Every farmer has a major interest in achieving the maximum milk yield from the dairy cattle that are within the established farm. FarmCo always wants to get the maximum amount of milk from the various dairy cattle that is within the company’s premise and therefore better incentives and innovations to have to be incorporated in order to achieve the desired goal. According to Akbar, et al. (2020), it is expected that the use of IoT and different Artificial Intelligence (AI) in conjunction with Machine Learning (ML) techniques can assist a farmer to overcome different traditional farming challenges and increase milk production. A smart dairy farming practice aids in reducing environmental issues, decreases the use of resources, and raise animal health by using advanced sensing and data analyzing technologies. This implies that for every established IoT environment for dairy cows, then the following smart dairy farming features have to be considered: In smart monitoring, elements such as SmartHerd, Decision support models, which encompass position and location tracking have to be observed on real-time; in dairy cow observation, elements such as activity and behavior observations have to be considered via the use of wearable and non-wearable sensors, therefore, being able to monitor body temperature thus being able to automatically detect diseases. Equally, feeding which is a core component of any dairy cow’s growth and development needs to be monitored to ascertain the nutritional components via the use of an automatic concentrate feeder while at the same time, milking which has both milk preservation and robotic milking must be considered to ensure maximum output yield via use of automatic milking techniques (Akbar, et al., 2020).
The IoT architecture as applied in dairy farming would result in digital tracking of every dairy cow through the use of advanced sensing technologies and the associated software. Equally, IoT permits genomic testing where the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) of a calf can be established as early as a day after its birth which allows the farmer to predict with certainty how a heifer will mature to adulthood in terms of milk production and breeding capacity. The exact time when a cow should calf can also be arrived at via the use of IoT and in the same measure, farmers can be able to apply geospatial sensor technologies including Global Positioning System (GPS) applications to manage to plant, fertilizing, crop spraying and harvesting with the outcome of improved crop management and cost-saving practice as was elaborated by Vate-U-Lan, Quigley, & Masouras (2017).
A typical smart dairy farming architecture is shown in Figure 1 below. In the figure, it is illustrated that every dairy cow shall have a wearable sensor that is used to capture all the related data of the cow before sending the collected data to the nearest gateway and with the aid of the internet the captured data gets transferred to the respective base station. From the base station, data is relayed to the cloud which does the analysis using different available techniques and methods.
Figure 1: Smart Dairy Farming Framework (Akbar, et al., 2020)
Based on the analyzed data, a farmer can be able to predict probable future data based on the environment in which the dairy cow resides. The cloud will be able to send alerts to the farmer based on the thresholds that had been established for various actions to be acted upon. This architecture is typical and can be applied across various dairy cow establishments and not only for the FarmCo since it does create that good and comfortable environment for the cow and therefore an increase in milk production would be one of the observable output results.
The rest of this report is organized as follows: in section 3, a detailed analysis of the identified problems by the FarmCo are analyzed, while in section 4, the probable solutions to the identified analyzed problems are established before having a discussion on the findings in section 5. Section 6 outlines some of the recommendations that would assist the company scale up in its dairy farming business and lastly, the report offers conclusion in section 7.
Just like any other farm, there should be sufficient ways that water can use to flow from the transmitter to the receiver. But of major essence is to permit flow of water without any leakage or drops in order to maximize on water usage. Use of high accommodative pressure pipes with adequate nose inches permits seamless flow of water provided there is adequate supply from the source.
There are several wastes that are produced within the dairy farm including the cow dung, feed wastes, biodegradable substances and the non-biodegradable elements. Often a time these wastes and the related items find themselves in the sewages thereby clogging the sewage pass way. The cow dung together with the human waste would be used to produce energy in form of gas that can be used within the farm for cooking and other related purposes. It is therefore necessary to have biodigesters where all these animal and human wastes can be directed for gas production and to keep the environment clean and healthy. Equally, the biodegradable wastes can also be collected together and reformed into other useful products that can still be used within the farm. The non-biodegradable items can be assembled in specified places within the farm, compressed at a given temperature and stored as a single substance which can be sold to the relevant companies that operate their businesses within such a niche.
Dairy cattle rely on water for dehydration and digestion of the consumed foods. Water also aids in maintaining the cleanliness of the dairy cattle environment in order to minimize related diseases and infections. Moreover, water is used in cattle dips to aid in conjunction with relevant medications to aid in the disinfection of parasites and pests. Equally, water is used within the farm to irrigate the planted feeds using various irrigation methods to enhance feed production. It is therefore an important element to have water metering systems (use of sensors and actuators) within the farm at large and be able to portion water as per the needs of every farm section.
Management of land goes beyond subdividing land by incorporating elements such as soil type, pH values to ascertain the kinds of feeds that can be grown in such lands. The use of mountable sensors is able to assist determine the soil pH and relay the same information via the cloud to the relevant authorities for the implementation of the necessary effects. Equally, the use of drones’ aids in surveying the farm in real-time and transmitting the collected information to the concerned personnel.
Enhancing the productivity of a dairy cow requires that sufficient feeds or forage that is adequately nutritious must be availed and provided. It is therefore an important parameter of consideration for every farmer to possess quick and reliable knowledge of the nutritive values of dairy farm forage. A near-infrared spectrometry (NIRS) technique which is a portable instrument system that is used to analyze the nutritional values of dairy farm forage was proposed by Rego, et al. (2020). The technique relied on IoT tools that helped in sending the collected data to the cloud for processing making the information available to any device. The NIR which encompasses a chemometric model was used to extract relevant information about forge quality (the relationship between the measured spectrum and the concentration of the substances of interest).
Edge devices in conjunction with robots can be used to help plan a healthy diet and feeding program for dairy cattle with respect to the health conditions as was presented by Gehlot, et al. (2022). In the design, the edge mote is placed in the position of the cow where the image captured by the camera module is analyzed by the pre-trained model embedded in it as shown in Figure 2. The analyzed results are then communicated to the robots that are mounted onto the surrounding dairy cattle through LoRa. The robots thereafter rely on the provided collected health information to prepare adequate food for the dairy cattle which are placed in the chamber of a mobile robot, that carry the food to the particular cattle position.
Equally, the use of mobile robots helps in identifying the ID of the particular cattle as was established during firmware development in both mobile robots and edge mote. The use of robots in this setup also ensures that the health environment of the dairy cattle is at par and meets the minimum established thresholds. The co-processor in the edge mode provides computing power for analyzing the data with the ML model. Moreover, the information is logged on the digital platform i.e., the cloud server through the gateway. The integration of robots, ML, IoT, and edge devices has facilitated the implementation of intelligent systems to ensure a healthy diet for dairy cows.
Figure 2: IoT and robotics architecture and diet planning and feeding (Gehlot, et al. 2022)
The unpredictable weather changes that are currently taking a toll on the universe have an adverse effect on feed production, animal husbandry, and the general well-being of dairy cattle. Within FarmCo, there should be embedded IoT sensors that are able to rely on real-time the pressure, humidity, temperature, and expected rainfalls to the corresponding users. This shall permit the farm management to plan for the expected eventualities and foster the development of the dairy cattle.
Every irrigation system requires the laying of pipes and an adequate supply of water from the collecting reservoirs. Smart metering devices need to be installed and planted in the established water stores to trigger alerts whenever the minimum water level is reached and a refill is needed. Equally, a pipe monitoring system that also relies on sensors should be able to inform the relevant authorities whenever any pipe leakage is detected so that the necessary measures to be put in place.
The irrigation system also needs to be automated depending on the prevailing weather conditions and the soil moisture so that farm irrigation happens without the involvement of human beings.
Water usage monitoring.
By placing moisture sensors under trees or plants within the farm it becomes easier to determine the humidity of the feeds that the dairy cattle shall consume. Equally, to control water usage within the farm, various water reservoirs can be fitted with different water controllers that have sensors within them. The collected sensor information from the controllers can be transmitted to the gateway which triggers the turning on of the pump and recycling of the water flow. It, therefore, becomes easy for the various water pumps to be remotely controlled and parameters such as moisture and flow rate can be monitored using an HTTP dashboard (Habib, et al., 2022).
Greenhouse emissions management.
There exist various emissions that come from the established greenhouses within the farm. These emissions are often dangerous to the environment and at times cause environmental degradation. However, with the use of IoT, various emissions can be classified in which the if the harmful ones are emitted, then a trigger alert is sent to the responsible authority via the configured sensors within the greenhouse.
Milk vats and wastage preventions.
Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) is used in evaluating and controlling the critical points of the production process by entering the PAT (process analytical technology) as proposed by (Evangelista, Basirico, & Bernabucci, 2021). NIRS can be used to obtain information on the chemical-physical composition of raw materials, total mixed ratio (TMR), feces and digestibility, and chemical and technological analysis of milk. NIRS is a reliable and predictive technology that is used to determine the relevant parameters in matrices such as raw feed, TMR, feces, and milk.
Animal welfare health monitoring model
The combination of sensors and GPS tracking units into a single mountable device on the dairy cattle aids in tracking down animal health and other key behavior thus increasing output and overall dairy cattle wellness (Akbar, et al., 2020). To enhance the welfare of the dairy cattle, geofencing which relies on GPS network and other related communication techniques such as Wi-Fi nodes and Bluetooth beacons, aids in establishing a geofence around the farmer area. The geofence is paired with an animal collar and software application so that in any case a given dairy cattle leaves the farm, it automatically triggers an alert alarm to the correspondent’s authority mobile device for immediate action(s).
This approach was also echoed by Unold, et al. (2020), who reiterated that the use of automated, IoT-based monitoring system that constitutes various hardware, cloud system, end-user application, innovative techniques of measuring data and analyzing algorithms aids in monitoring the health status of dairy cows in a given farm.
According to Taneja, et al. (2019), the various data collected from various dairy cattle wearables needs to be transmitted to the fog-based platform for classification and analysis tasks including decision-making capabilities thereby providing adequate actionable information to the relevant individuals and authorities on the welfare and wellbeing of the dairy cattle (Taneja, et al., 2021).
Further, in a different publication, Taneja, et al. (2018) noted that a combination use of IoT, fog computing, cloud computing, and data analytics aided in monitoring the health status of the dairy cattle in realtime therefore, being able to identify various potential diseases at an early stage which might end up affecting milk productivity.
Moreover, there was the development of an end-to-end IoT application system that relied on fog and cloud support in analyzing the various generated data from wearable dairy cattle’s feet to help in detecting various anomalies in the behavior of the dairy cattle that correspond to illnesses such as lameness (Taneja, et al., 2019). This approach helped in triggering alerts to the farmers on the well-being of the dairy, therefore, aiding in livestock monitoring as was also established by (Debdas, et al., 2021).
Milking and milk quality monitoring.
The use of the MooCare model which is dependent on the Internet of Things performs automation and individualization of the animals feeding. The gathered data by the IoT devices helps MooCare to provide milk production forecasting for every cow in conjunction with the ARIMA prediction engine (Righi, et al. 2020). The use of IoT has introduced auto milking which is efficient and reduces expenses, therefore, leveraging the manual system that has been used for a long time now. Auto milking aids in milk preservation through the use of various smart cooling tanks. Auto milking relies on computer and special herd management software and has defined tasks including collecting the animal, cleaning the dairy before milking, attaching the milking equipment to the udder, extracting milk, removing the milking equipment, and routing the dairy from the milking area (Akbar, et al., 2020).
The use of sensors, IoT, broadband technologies, and data analytics aids in the provision of robotic milking systems that help in milking the cow, analyzing the milk, processing the milk, and preserving it. These data can then be stored in the cloud and ML algorithms are applied to predict the future milking pattern of the dairy cattle (Nleya & Ndlovu, 2022).
Quality of milk can be realized if the fat content, protein, lactose, and density among other factors in a given milk quantity is established. A model that includes IoT agents such as milk analyzers, converters, storage of quality indicators, processing capabilities, decision-making framework, and monitoring of milk quality indicators are brought together. This will require the use of milk analyzers, gateways-converters, cloud platforms, and connecting mobile devices as was established by Vishniakou, Al-Masri, & Al-Haji (2021).
Effluent monitoring mechanism.
The wastes accrued from the farm need to be classified and those that require reprocessing identified. The water waste can be treated so that the clean water is reintroduced back into the farm even as the residues are decomposed in the right place based on the established procedures. Wastes on nonbiodegradable items require the use of squashing machines that also need to have elements of IoT within them for their functions.
Based on the above findings and the populated results, this report recommends the use of IoT and the related systems in every sector of the FarmCo in order to improve the welfare of the dairy cattle, feed production, and therefore high milk yield.
Further, this report recommends the establishment of a centralized server which all the embedded IoT elements within the farm can channel and retrieve information from. The use of CCTV within the farms should be embraced and installed to enhance the already established security mechanisms. The footage from this CCTV footage needs to be monitored in real-time by a dedicated team and sufficient response mechanisms to be put in place in case of identification of insecurity incidences.
This report has elaborated an executive summary in its initial section that has captured the entire deliverables. Consequently, the introduction part has helped in bringing out the background of the study and the various elements that are involved in establishing an IoT-enabled environment for dairy cattle. Further, the report has offered a discussion on the various subsystems of the entire dairy farm setup and how best IoT in conjunction with cloud computing and related AI and ML techniques can be used to achieve optimality. Lastly, the recommendations that can be used by FarmCo going forward to achieve maximum yield and ensure the best welfare for the dairy within the farm have been provided in the last section.