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Cattle Ranching Gains from IoT-based Intelligence

Chipsafer has completed two African pilots of its LoRa technology-powered system to locate cattle on large ranches and track their behavior; similar pilots in Europe, South America and Australia are ongoing.
By Claire Swedberg

In Luxemburg and Africa, the gateways leverage satellite networks from SES, since those areas lack 3G or 4G cellular coverage. During an earlier pilot, at a site in Brazil, the gateways used a Wi-Fi connection.

The Kenya project took place on a wildlife preserve in which the managers wanted to ensure that livestock would remain safe from rustlers. The system enabled them to know, in real time, if someone attempted to remove an animal, by sending them an alert. Alonsoperez says the wildlife preserve's management has been able to examine the data and not only view where all animals are located, but also notice unusual behavior and dispatch personnel to a specific animal when needed.

A farm in Namibia and a ranch in Luxembourg have both tested the technology to better understand the movement patterns of cattle, in order to comprehend their conditions and behavior. In all three pilots, Alonsoperez reports, approximately 50 animals were tracked from April until July of this year. Chipsafer installed two or three gateways at most locations to provide a level of redundancy. She says the system could identify the location of a tagged cow within about 20 meters (65.6 feet).

Typically, Mohan says, a LoRa gateway can manage data from up to about 10,000 sensors and handle a million transmissions daily. A single gateway, he explains, could manage around 10,000 acres, while larger ranches could add additional gateways. Typical rural deployments have gateways spaced anywhere from 6 kilometers to 15 kilometers apart, he says, "and data from sensors is received by all gateways within its range." Users can then add gateways as needed to scale up network capacity.

"Our next step is to manufacture the devices in bulk," Alonsoperez says, adding that she hopes Chipsafer can reduce the cost of the devices as they are mass-produced. The company declines to name a specific price for the devices since cost varies according to volume. She says the firm has received many requests from farmers to trial or deploy the technology.

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