Connecting the home, the farm, and the world requires the use of advanced internet-based communications, monitoring, and control systems. These systems are designed to improve human, natural resource, and energy effeciencies. We believe the integration and use of these systems will actually help the home pay for itself and we believe this because of the following.
The systems help the farm family to use their time more wisely and allow for the displaying of data in ways that ease the decision making processes and save time.
The systems operate in the background; informing the family when something is out of order or a marketing opportunity exists. Cameras with embedded switches enable remote monitoring and control–saving time and energy. The variable rate irrigation system monitors soil moisture conditions and adjusts automatically as it passes over the land. Equipment is serviced on time and equipment locations are provided via embedded GPS chips. The advanced farm management systems are available through a smart phone, tablet or computer using the farm’s local wireless network (intranet) or off-site via the internet.
Internet-based monitoring and control systems increase energy efficiency, improve management efficiency, and lead to energy savings due to reduced travel requirements and more efficient equipment operation. For example, it is possible to create a system that sends an alert if the temperature and sound wave patterns of an engine are too divergent from the norm and turns it off automatically under those circumstances.
The wireless cloud over the UGA-Tifton campus and at cooperating farm site use multiple Strix radios strategically located at a variety of sites including the home, dairy, cotton gin, cropland, pasture, and forested areas. Farm test sites include Boddiford Farms (row crops, Screven County), Lewis Taylor Farms (vegetables, greenhouses and perennial grasses, Tift County), Glass Enterprises (chicken and alligators, Mitchell County) and White Oak Pastures (cattle and free range poultry, Bluffton, GA). The exact types of sensors, control systems, and alarms to be deployed vary from site to site and include:
Temperature – field, greenhouse, animal confinement facilities
Moisture – field, drying and storage facilities
Camera systems – field, packing and processing areas, loading docks, gas pumps, equipment, office, shop and home.
Sound sensors – equipment, animal facilities, shop
Odor detectors – for organic volatiles (animal facilities, storage areas)
Location (Position) – equipment, vehicles, irrigation systems, people
Status – off/on
Animal feeding systems
Office and home thermostats, lights, appliances
Will smart phone, tablet, or other mobile platform applications provide the best way to access the information provided by these sensors? Deployment of these technologies is critical, and there are too few technicians in rural areas capable of these tasks.