What role exists for IoT technologies in the feed industry?

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis contact

- Last updated on GMT

©GettyImages/ Anne-Marie Miller
©GettyImages/ Anne-Marie Miller
Dairy and beef producers may be among those most interested in using connected technologies to track livestock, feed intake and dietary reformulations, according to recent industry analysis.

Alpha Brown, an Ag-Tech market research company, released a report earlier this month detailing the use and market potential of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies in agriculture including for animal production and feed use in the US.

IoT technologies tend to include sensors, software, electronics actuators or that are connected to allow for the exchange of data gathered. In agriculture, this could include a range of technologies designed to collect or monitor information through a single source, noted the report authors.

Some of the technologies allow producers to monitor livestock, tracking location, behavior patterns and rearing conditions, they said. For dairy production, IoT tools might include monitoring of milk production, health or it could involve data tracking to know when to change feed ingredients.

Additionally, technologies exist also to monitor the quantity and quality of feed grains and oilseeds, they said.   

One area where there has been both interest in and adoption of IoT technologies within animal production has been in tracking feed intake and animal location, said Gil Rabinovich, CEO with Alpha Brown.

“In general, IOT is most suitable for controlling the feeding of animals in the ability to monitor the activity and location of animals in the meadow or barn,” ​he told FeedNavigator. “Connecting collars with sensors on cows allows for continuous monitoring and optimal planning of feeding.”

Some of the areas found to be most interested in IoT technologies include dairy farms, he said. “The greatest potential exists in livestock and field crops."

Report highlights

The goal of the research was better understanding of producers’ needs and the market potential for use of IoT technologies, the company said. It also explored producers' knowledge of the available technologies.

They surveyed more than 1,600 farmers and ranchers regarding interest or use of technological solutions. The majority of those who responded were based in the US.

Overall, the examination found that a growing number of producers are looking to such tools to improve production, the report authors said.

Mid-sized farms may present the best option for technologies moving forward, they said.

On the animal production side, dairy producers were the most interested in new technologies, they said. Dairy producers also were among the areas to have the highest levels of technology use, although beef producers using IoT technologies were among the most common users because of how many there are in the US.

Thus far the major use has been on the data management side, they added.   

Additionally, there may be gaps in how much is known about the technologies currently available, the authors said. About 5% of those taking part in the survey said they knew something about the subject and 6% said they had heard of it but needed more information.

“Is the market saturated? Definitely not,” ​said Rabinovich. “Look at the number of farmers who use these solutions today (about 10%) compared to those who are interested - more than 50%.”

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