Fitbit for Cows! Agtech that can save society billions

Sustainability problem- High costs to society due to disease outbreak on livestock farms

The risk of disease outbreak in meat and dairy industry can have severe downstream impacts that are broadly classified as-

Direct costs

  • Animal and human worker deaths due to illness
  • Reduced fertility and herd changes

Indirect costs

  • Mitigation costs- including cost of drugs, vaccines and surveillance
  • Human health impacts
  • Lost revenue to do lower productivity

Though the efficacy of disease management in the livestock industry has progressively improved, problems persist with the emergence of newer diseases, exacerbated by a variety of factors including climate change, migration and the overall growth of scale of the livestock industry. For example the cost of Salmonella in the EU and member states was estimated at €132,612,837 in 2008. In the United States, the Center for Disease Control estimated that the total cost to society due to Salmonella outbreaks in 2011 was over $2 Billion (The Cost of Animal Disease- Oxford Analytica).

Sustainability technology- SmartMoo, a wearable for Cows

In a world where data analytics, real-time sensing and IoT are finding increasing application in sustainability and smart cities, the livestock industry can certainly benefit from a similar intervention. The proposed technology is essentially a “Fitbit for Cows”, pioneered by an Indian Agtech firm called StellApps.

The product, called SmartMoo, is a router/IoT inspector that collects data from sensors placed all along the supply chain, right from animal wearables to the milking and cooling systems. The data is processed and analysed and sent to various stakeholders involved, including farmers. Its low hardware costs ensure that it is an affordable solution for farmers in the developing world, who are typically at the bottom of the pyramid.

The wearable can be used to monitor the herd’s vitals, including temperature, activity and behaviour with the aim to alert the concerned stakeholder in real-time in case of abnormalities. By timely response to signals, farmers can ensure a healthy herd and disease-free industry, saving both themselves and society at large tremendous amounts of mitigation costs.

Key stakeholders and their role in implementation

The key stakeholders in deploying and scaling this technology are the following-

  • Governments- to create incentive schemes for farmers and livestock farm owners to invest in and adopt these technologies as well as create a network of emergency response veterinarians
  • Medical community- Veterinarians to link to and monitor data from these sensors at an aggregate level to inform the authorities on “hotspots” for disease activity as well as take necessary precautions
  • Farmers and livestock owners- to be trained on installing, using and interpreting information from sensors. It would also be helpful for the medical community to disseminate “immediate care” knowledge to the livestock owners, so that signals caught by the network of sensors can be addressed immediately while professional help is organized and dispatched

Sources-

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferhicks/2016/12/31/take-a-look-at-how-technology-makes-smart-and-sustainble-farming/#1643996f3deb

http://www.stellapps.com/index.php/13976-2/

https://www.digitalforallnow.com/en/agriculture-wearables-for-cows/

https://www.healthforanimals.org/component/attachments/attachments.html?task=attachment&id=34

 

By Aksheya Chandar (ac4154)

Image source- http://assets.fwi.co.uk/Cows-at-Tregevis-Farm

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3 thoughts on “Fitbit for Cows! Agtech that can save society billions

  1. Aksheya,

    Very interesting new technology. This seems applicable to dairy farming and be used effectively. This seems both beneficial for the cow, they will not be over medicated, and for the consumers, not drinking milk from cows that are sick. Plus the cost savings seems worth the invest. Great find!

    Like

  2. Also noteworthy is that this tech lowers the farming entry barrier. Sure there’s an upfront investment in the tech itself. However, now a farmer doesn’t need a strong agricultural background as they just have to interpret the data collected by the smartmoo. I imagine the smartmoo will even cut out the need for manual analysis and just present the farmer with action items.

    Like

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