The world is teeming with technology, and the farming industry is no different. Farm equipment can be programmed to run on its own, with minimal human supervision. New technology is constantly being released. Below are a couple examples of technology that can be accessed through apps on your phone, so you can check on your operation during breakfast, and know exactly what needs to be addressed when you step out the door.
Thermal Imaging – Not just for a 90’s sci-fi movie anymore, thermal imaging actually works quite well in a farm setting .A specialty thermal camera is required, it will plug and mount to your phone. Then an app will need to be downloaded that specializes in thermal imagery technology. The thermal camera is able to show temperature of the animals, their feed, and the environment surrounding them. This gives information to the farmer that they otherwise might not have realized on their own. For example, the camera can read the temperature of a barn ceiling. Perhaps it’s warmer than the farmer thought, and the ventilation system or fans need to be turned on early in order to compensate for the temperature.
Thermal imaging can also detect hot spots in silage piles where mold or bacteria are growing. It could also help to detect mastitis in cows. Sick cows often have temperatures, which means they will show up warmer than heathier cows in the camera. Also, infected areas generally have a higher temperature.
The camera can be fairly expensive to purchase, and battery life is not known to last very long (an hour max) and is worse in cold weather.
Barn video systems – Video is another great way to keep track of your operation and make sure it is are running smoothly. There are a variety of apps that can be downloaded to keep track of cameras. Video systems are great to monitor behavior & flow of animals, keep an eye on calves, and ensure robotics are working correctly. Video can also monitor feed efficiency of cows, seeing they are eating and there is always enough feed available.
Video systems are also great for security. Large operations cannot always be watched in full, this way it is easy to keep tabs on who is coming and going. Employee monitoring is another helpful aspect of video systems. You can check productivity and work habits to see if someone needs to be trained further, and it is a great tool for safety – and some insurance companies will give a discount if a video system is installed.
The drawback? Power outages, tech updates, and user education are all issues that can come up when new technology is implemented on an operation. Enjoy the ease of being able to keep an eye on your herd from your phone, but don’t forget the “old fashioned” way, just in case.
“Video Cameras and Smartphone Gadgets and Apps.” PennState Extension