A Low-Cost IoT-Based System to Monitor the Location of a Whole Herd

Authors: Francisco Maroto-Molina, Jorge Navarro-García, Karen Príncipe-Aguirre, Ignacio Gómez-Maqueda, José E. Guerrero-Gine, Ana Garrido-Varo and Dolores C. Pérez-Marín

Journal Title: Sensors

ISSN: 1424-8220 (Print)

Publisher: MDPI AG

Animal location technologies have evolved considerably in the last 60 years. Nowadays, animal tracking solutions based on global positioning systems (GPS) are commercially available. However, existing devices have several constraints, mostly related to wireless data transmission and financial cost, which make impractical the monitorization of all the animals in a herd. The main objective of this work is to develop a low-cost solution to enable the monitorization of a whole herd. An IoT-based system, which requires some animals of the herd being fitted with GPS collars connected to a Sigfox network and the rest with low-cost Bluetooth tags, has been developed. Its performance has been tested in two commercial farms, raising sheep and beef cattle, through the monitorization of 50 females in each case. Several collar/tag ratios, which define the cost per animal of the solution, have been simulated. Results demonstrate that a low collar/tag ratio enable the monitorization of a whole sheep herd. A larger ratio is needed for beef cows because of their grazing behavior. Nevertheless, the optimal ratio depends on the purpose of location data. Large variability has been observed for the number of hourly and daily messages from collars and tags. The system effectiveness for the monitorization of all the animals in a herd has been certainly proved.

Photo: Hardware components of the solution: (a) GPS device detail; (b) BLE device detail; (c) GPS collar placed on the neck of a cow; and (d) BLE tag placed on the ear of a calf. (credits: Francisco Maroto-Molina, Jorge Navarro-García, Karen Príncipe-Aguirre, Ignacio Gómez-Maqueda, José E. Guerrero-Gine, Ana Garrido-Varo and Dolores C. Pérez-Marín)

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Ag Sustainability And Innovation
Ag Sustainability And Innovation