When someone thinks about the potential industrial applications of 5G technology, dairy farms probably would not make to the initial list. Yet here we are, apparently cattle can be among the 5G pioneers.
The concept – Or should we say practice? – is simpler than it might sound at first. Each cow carries a 5G-connected gadget, a smart collar of sorts, on its neck. When the cow feels to be milked, it approaches a certain gate, the gate receives the signals of the collar and opens automatically for the parlor area.
The custom signal helps to differentiate each individual, and an automatic milking machine attaches itself precisely onto the teats of the respective animal. The machine does its thing while it may record and/or transmit data itself.
The 5G trial network is the courtesy of Cisco Systems Inc. The American technology conglomerate, partnered with the University of Strathclyd, is trialling wireless and mobile connectivity within the framework of its RuralFirst initiative in three locations.
One of them is a British farm in Shepton Mallet, southwest England. The British government funds one Agri-EPI centre here. 50 individuals of the 180-strong Friesian dairy herd carry such smart collars and health-monitoring ear tags. The latter helps the handlers to monitor if the frequencies associated with 5G cause any distress to the animals.
Dairy farming without a human touch
One might ask that why would we need a 5G wireless network for such simple tasks? According to the project manager of the innovation agency, data transmission from the sensors is much quicker (almost real time) this way than through computers and regular broadband.
Farms areas are not known for their good telecommunications coverage. A functional 5G network can connect the cows with automated brushes if the animal has a fancy for rubbing or scratching, with automated smart-feeding systems and other trivial equipment like doors or curtains.
As Cisco’s Nick Chrissos s puts it:
’We can connect every cow, we can connect every animal on this farm…That’s what 5G can do for farming, really unleash the power that we have within this farm…everywhere around the world.’