Building the Connected Cow for Operation Flood 2.0

Each and every task we do today will be transformed tomorrow with the Internet of Things. With its unlimited applications with various genre of industries, IoT has today become the Internet of Everything. With the use of technologies like sensors, high tech camera, Global Positioning Systems and big data, the source can be mined for meaningful information. Connected Cow concept has become a globally accepted technology in precision agriculture space.

The advent of technology can create ‘food for everyone’ keeping in mind the outburst of the ever-growing population. The quality of the food is deteriorating with continuous manual intervention. But technology has helped us to increase food production due to technologies like tractors, accurate weather forecasting and biotechnology. By 2050, the world will need to produce 70% more food than it did 10 years ago.

For hundreds of years, the dairy business remained essentially the same. A family would milk its own cows and sell any surplus to neighbours or the local community. But over the last century, new machines were invented, urban populations exploded and the price of land and manpower has skyrocketed. These trends and others put pressure on farms of all types to consolidate, specialize and increase production to keep supermarket shelves full. The connected cow concept has the potential to manage 1000s of cows by a handful of people.

Launched in the 1970’s, the Operation Flood mission by India’s Dairy Development Board has helped India to be the largest producer of milk in the world. Not just the largest consumer of milk, but today are also the largest consumer of cheese, butter, buttermilk and ice-creams made by milk. Our love of milk is associated with the exponential sales of Shrikhand, Basundi and Mithais. To meet the demands of ever-growing middle-class Indians, we need to re-launch Operation Flood with the mix of Artificial Intelligence.

The concept of connected of the cow was first introduced in the Startup Nation of Israel. With geo-tagging of cows and accurate use of big data, an average cow in Israel gives 12,000 litres of milk per year i.e whopping 32 litres per day. An average Indian breed of cow has the capacity of giving only 3 litres per day. Although, the milk quality of Indian desi is A2, which is much superior to of Israeli cows. Agricultural experts are of an opinion, Desi Indian cows can give 5 times more milk if proper care of cow nutrition and health is guaranteed.

SCR Dairy, Israel uses Microsoft Azure on a windows software. They have a software named HealthCow24 which is a modern breakthrough for a traditional industry. It transmits big data through RFID tags which are located on the ear of the bovine. This cow-monitoring system gives farmers insights that can boost milk production, smooth the calving process and ensure healthier cows — all while saving time. All you need is PC to check updates about the status of the cow. The system aggregates data from the sensors and conveys it to the farm’s office, and it’s available through a mobile application so farmers have access to data about cows’ heat cycles and health from anywhere at any time. It also allows farmers to make lists, prepare reports, sort cows by category and track each animal’s overall history.

Pune’s Chitale Dairy which is famous for awesome Bhakarwadi and milk products has been an industry first in India to implement connected cow solution. Chitale Dairy produces 400,000 litres of milk per day, as well as cream, butter, and yogurt—all from a remotely managed herd of almost 200,000 cows. Only 1,000 of the animals are kept at the company’s facility in Maharashtra state, the rest are owned and cared for by 10,000 small family farmers. Chitale is helping its satellite farmers keep their cows healthy and productive through its “Cows to Cloud” program. The cow-cloud connection is enabled by a radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag attached to the animal. Data on each cow (such as blood profile, nutritional needs, and milk production) is automatically collected daily and sent to Chitale’s data centre which is powered by Dell VMWare. The data can be easily accessed through a secured web or even mobile app.

India is investing big in big data analytics to improve its milk production. The government has decided that all 88 lakhs bovines in India should get mandatory ear tags enabled with RFID tags along with Unique Identification Number (Just like Aadhaar Card) which then can be tracked through an application. It is spending more than Rs 150 crores for the project. The UID tags are tamper-proof made of a polyutherine material with UID number. The project could double the production of milk by improving the health of Indian cows/buffalos. Within a few years, cattle owners using connected cow tech will see tangible benefits of precision agriculture.

– Chaitanya Kulkarni

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