Smarter Agriculture on Helium — Tracking Livestock Health withBrDot

Helium Foundation
The Helium Blog
Published in


4 min read·5 hours ago

Gabriel Marques and Rodrigo Junco of BrDot, and Helium Community Members since 2021, have improved their ability to track livestock thanks to the Helium Network.

The saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” finds practical application in the livestock industry, where preventing diseases rather than treating them is a guiding principle. Since treating sick animals demands significant time and resources, not to mention the unknown upstream and downstream effects, the importance of livestock health is essential to efficient operations. The Helium Network has enabled new preventative strategies for the BrDot team, in line with their values to foster a sustainable and productive agricultural landscape in Brazil.

One of the primary challenges in smart agriculture is tracking and management of livestock. This includes monitoring their health, location, and behavior in real time. The challenge arises from the need for durable, long-lasting devices that withstand various environmental conditions and animal movements. Additionally, these tracking devices are safe and comfortable for the animals while providing accurate and timely data to the farmers, which requires technology and infrastructure. Integrating IoT (Internet of Things) devices with livestock management also demands robust network infrastructure, which is difficult to establish in remote or rural areas.

BrDot is pioneering the introduction of the Helium IOT Network in Brazil. Helium is the largest decentralized wireless network, with hundreds of thousands of Hotspots connected worldwide. BrDot currently has over 6,000 access points that cater to IoT connectivity needs across Latin America.

On February 9th, 2024, the SafeCows research project was launched, a collaborative effort between Centro Universitário Católica do Tocantins (UniCatólica), BrDot, and AR Inovações, aiming to revolutionize dairy farming in the State of Tocantins. The project seeks to bring innovation to the region’s livestock landscape by developing biocapsules for monitoring dairy cows.

“The goal is to identify sick cows early, treat sick cows early, prevent the spread of disease, protect the food supply, and improve animal welfare.” — Rodrigo Junco, co-founder of BrDot.

Rodrigo Junco, co-founder of BrDot, expresses enthusiasm for the project’s potential to introduce IoT technology to Tocantins, Brazil. The biocapsules, inserted through a simple and safe procedure, provide crucial data on ruminal temperature, peristaltic movements, methane production and release into the atmosphere, and overall animal activity, offering insights into health, estrous cycles, environmental impact, and productivity. Dr. Angelica Pedrico underscores the significance of this technology in enhancing animal well-being and herd productivity through early detection of conditions like heat stress. For example, heat stress during the dry period impairs the lifetime performance of dairy cows, costing USD 371 million per year to the dairy industry in the United States. [1]

Twenty-two animals are being monitored, and the effectiveness of biocapsules against traditional necklaces is being compared. Layla Vilela, a graduate of UniCatólica and a dairy cow breeder, anticipates the benefits of biocapsules in facilitating decision-making and improving overall profit and productivity. Dr. Andrea Borim, UniCatólica’s dean, emphasizes the invaluable learning opportunities for students, who will engage with the project’s results and gain firsthand experience in innovative agricultural practices. Approved by the Animal Use Ethics Committee, this study adheres to all ethical guidelines and promises to yield valuable insights for advancing dairy farming in the region.

The implementation of IoT solutions in livestock management is not just a technical advancement. It represents a strategic investment in the future of agriculture, with the potential to drive significant economic benefits and sustainability of farming practices. From an economic perspective, the adoption of IoT technologies promises to optimize operational efficiencies, reduce waste, and minimize the costs associated with livestock farming. These improvements directly contribute to the bottom line, enhancing the competitiveness of farms in a global market.

Furthermore, by enabling precise health monitoring and management, IoT technologies can significantly reduce the economic losses associated with livestock diseases and mortality, thereby safeguarding the income of farmers and ensuring the stability of the food supply chain. It facilitates a reduction in the use of resources, lowers greenhouse gas emissions, and ensures a higher standard of animal welfare. These factors resonate with the growing consumer demand for responsible and transparent food production methods.

“We’re excited to see longtime Helium community members, such as BrDot, developing practical smart agriculture solutions that solve real livestock management problems. The power of an incentivized community-built network, plus the ability for an application developer to easily supplement coverage is part of what makes Helium so practical for IoT solutions. ” — Scott Sigel, COO, Helium Foundation.

In essence, the journey towards a smarter, more sustainable agriculture sector through the adoption of IoT technologies is a collective endeavor. It offers a unique opportunity to harmonize economic objectives with environmental stewardship and social responsibility. Join us in uncovering how simple, innovative solutions built using Helium’s robust network create a more sustainable future for everyone.

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