Wearable Sensors for Dairy Livestock

The Farmnote Company is developing a cloud-based solution for dairy farmers and is located on the northern island of Hokkaido. The company has announced that it has raised 210 million yen or $1.7 million funds from Tokyo-based trading company Kanematsu, Kanematsu Agritech, Japanese mobile gaming company Gree, Colopl co-founder and executive vice president Kotaro Chiba, Six Apart CTO Daiji Hirata as well as an undisclosed Japanese company. Farmnote now uses the funds to strengthen the development of wearable devices for dairy livestock and peripherals for monitoring livestock, specifically collecting daily performance data on dairy cows.
The plan to develop a sensor device and cloud-based systems was incorporated in November 2013 and focused on streamlining the dairy and livestock farming operations since June 2014. The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, called the Supporting Industry initiative and leveraged a grant. The company won the top prize at Zenkoku Startup Day (literally meaning “All-Japan Startup Day”) held in Hokkaido in September 2014 despite the fact that it had been only a few months since they started working on the project.
Shinya Kobayashi, the Farmnote founder and also Skyarc, a Hokkaido-based company providing system integration services using content management system Movable Type. As per the facts, 93% of Japanese farmer’s livestock are small scale and have less than 100 cattle. Shinya Kobayashi provides the farmers with the Farmnote cloud platform for free which allows them to manage their livestock individually via smartphone. The free business model has made the Farmnote successful in attracting farmers while the farmers with more than 100 cattle have to subscribe to the premium plan. In Japan, almost 3% of the entire population of dairy and livestock farmers are using Farmnote.
Shinya Kobayashi delivers a pitch at Zenkoku Startup Day in Sapporo, Hokkaido “we are currently developing sensor devices collecting data on the cattle. Unlike typical wearable devices for humans, our unit has to be fault tolerant with a long-lasting battery because it is attached to animals, meaning it is difficult to attach and remove. We are spending our time and money to develop such a device to conduct a field test on an actual ranch”.
“We will provide dairy and livestock farmers using our cloud service with these sensor devices. We are not sure on the payment process if we can sell it via one-time payment or need to adopt a monthly subscriptions model. However, our device, at any rate, is easy to install so that livestock owners can handle by themselves, without professional set-up”.
The wearable devices transmit the data using radio waves while the company is yet to announce on the wireless technology to be adopted. The gateway station equipment has to be placed in the multiple locations on the ranch so the signals from the devices can be captured regardless of the livestock movement. It is difficult to gain access to power supply or internet on the ranch; so the company is planning to develop a signal collections platform. If the development is successful in allowing users to collect data from sensors in a field environment such as ranch at a reasonable price, that can be applied to the entire agricultural industry beyond dairy or livestock farming and bring data-driven approaches to the business. Farmnote is focused on developing sensors devices and peripherals, and plans to deliver the device for next spring.
Kobayashi added” The livestock market of Japan is larger than rice farming and valued about $20 billion. If consolidated with other businesses such as feed producers or distribution channels for livestock, the market value increase by three or four times. Along with the services for the livestock industry, the company wants to collect data on animals and crops in the global farming market of the future”.
The global population explosion causes a widespread scarcity of food and farmlands in the future. To avoid this, the food production process should be further streamlined. As the streamlining efforts based on gene modification technologies are being made in the world, the company likes to contribute to the improvement of food productivity, by providing methods to better manage livestock and farm products as well as help farmers to keep doing business with less dependency on their intuition.

More information can be found at: The Bridge.

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