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NFC- and Sensor-Based Solution Brings Intelligence to Cattle Feed, Forage

Orkel is preparing pilots of its new FeedIQ system that analyzes the quality of bulk material as it compacts and bales that material, then stores the data with NFC tag IDs so that users can access that information as they sell, purchase or use the bales.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 11, 2018

Norwegian agricultural and industrial forage technology company Orkel is preparing to pilot its new FeedIQ system that employs sensors and RFID technology to collect and analyze the quality of forage. That data is then made available to its customers in farming or other industries via a Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled smartphone or tablet. By storing NFC RFID-based data in the FeedIQ software, the company explains, Orkel's customers can share that information with members of its supply chain who simply read the NFC tag attached to each bale.

Orkel is a 60-year-old company that makes heavy machinery (it invented its first baler in 1986) that is used throughout 50 countries. Recently, the firm has been focusing on technology-based solutions to add intelligence to its baling systems.

A bale of animal feed
The foraging industry is, by nature, complex. Orkel's baling equipment compresses bulk material—such as corn cattle feed, compost or waste—into round bales to create 70 percent less volume. But then, as the bales move downstream to those who will receive and use or dispose of them, information about that material can be difficult to trace.

Gjermund Kambestad
"We want the customers to know more about their forage," says Gjermund Kambestad, Orkel's engineering department manager. "Therefore, we are implementing an automatic weighing system," along with a near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR) scanner for forage analysis, as well as other sensors to provide useful data.

Orkel's FeedIQ system uses RFID to automatically capture sensor data. In the case of cattle feed, not only can the solution help companies understand the product in bales, which might be used to feed cattle, but they can use analysis to better understand the effect that particular baled product has on cattle health and productivity. The system also enables a faster, automated process to identify potentially contaminated bales, the company indicates, based on those bales that originated at the same time and place as any found to be contaminated—with a piece of metal, for example.

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