Internet of Turkeys: How IoT is Helping Farmers Take Better Care of Our Thanksgiving Meal


It’s nearly that time of year when people all around the country get together to spend time with their families and give thanks for the harvest and each other. This special time of year is usually accompanied by a big meal and maybe a drink or two (go on, no one’s counting). However, how many of us give thanks for the technologies that enable us to enjoy this holiday?

Understandably, the devices and machinery that provide the capabilities farmers need to meet demands when this time or year comes around don’t get too much of a thought. In this day and age, technology is so abundant in nearly every aspect of our lives that we can often take it for granted.

In this article, we will review how Internet of Things is helping turkey growers take better care of the birds and also become more competitive to gain a higher return on investment.

So, let’s first look at what are the challenges and then we will jump into how IoT is addressing them.

Stepping into a Turkey’s Shoes: What Challenges Does it Face?

We want our turkeys to be big and juicy. In order for them to be like that, they need certain conditions to be maintained during their stay at the farm. Need for temperature (air, soil, water) and ventilation control in the farm is of the most critical nature among other environmental requirements.

Turkeys require the environment temperature to be between 70-79° F, if the temperature goes above 80° F, it can affect their growth. if it gets higher than 80° F, or the humidity levels go up, it can lead to heat exhaustion. Increase in the temperature causes heat stress and disturbs the internal balance of bird’s heat which leads to digestion problems and therefore their health and growth is affected. A farm wide temperature fluctuation causes the whole flock to suffer.

Cleanliness is something really important. Birds can’t communicate that they don’t appreciate bad arrangement for cleaning but it has been studied that they grow 15% more when provided with a clean environment.

Biosecurity issues. Turkey farms have their own unique microbial population. Having unauthorized or unnecessary visitors can contaminate their environment in away that might not be visible to the naked eye, but it can have a considerable negative impact on the turkeys’ health. Having a stringent access control is extremely important to avoid any disease outbreaks.

Those were just some of the issues that turkeys face. Turkey growers have been using various technologies and manpower to manage farms and provide the most turkey-friendly environment they can. Industrial IoT is now offering them advanced tools to take greater care of your thanksgiving-meal-to-be and also maximize their ROI.

Let’s dive into some of the challenges most turkey farmers confront today with their legacy tools and how IoT is modernizing them.

Challenges with Traditional Practices and Systems

1- Data is Incomplete, Analysis is Time-Consuming and There is no Real-Time Visibility

Poultry farms need constant monitoring of temperature, ventilation and humidity. Consistency in these three environmental factors is critical for maximizing feed conversion and bird productivity. Modern IoT networking, sensor and edge computing technologies offer tools for superior monitoring and remote management of poultry farms, hence make the business more profitable and competitive. To leverage the benefits of IoT, poultry farms are now replacing traditional SCADA systems with a network of LPWAN enabled sensors, sensor hubs and 4G/LTE IoT gateways that collect, standardize and transmit data to the cloud.

Lanner’s LEC-7230M is an example of an Industrial PC based fanless IoT Gateway, that offers compact foot print, cellular communication as well as the right I/O and processing power to work as an IoT gateway in harsh conditions such as inside a poultry farm. LEC-7230M lends for deploying an edge IoT platform to create a smart farming application that offers data collection, management of environment control devices and communication with the cloud where insightful reports and alerts are generated. This architecture of poultry farm management gives users real time access to data and report on the go by simply logging into the cloud application.

2- Environment Monitoring and Control is Expensive and Requires Human Involvement

Anything that involves human involvement normally costs more money than what a machine would cost. Its no different in poultry farming. Also, SCADA systems are limiting in functionality and interoperability. SCADA allows for raw data collection that still requires contextual information to create information. If you are managing multiple sites and a variety of animals, you will have a complex task at hand to manage and maintain your monitoring system.

IoT on the other hand brings simplicity while enhancing functionality and optimizing cost. Industrial IoT devices are interoperable and application is easy to scale. IoT ecosystem technologies allow for interoperability, integration between IT and OT systems and also make multi-site management much easier and cost-effective. Compared to traditional methods of turkey farm monitoring, IoT brings automation of data collection through wireless sensors, brings accuracy and insightful reporting to the equation at the same time while slashing the costs for the farmers tremendously.

3- Managing On-site Video Surveillance Recording for Farms is In-effective Against Vandalism and for Animal Safety

Turkey farms or Poultry farms in general are normally very large in size and therefore perimeter fencing and lighting may not be very harm-proof. Deploying video surveillance is a great way of keeping an eye on everything that goes on for animal safety and protecting against vandalism. However, locally recording DVRs do not prove to be very effective video monitoring strategy. At most they can provide forensic evidence but not real time view or alerts. Using a cloud managed Video Management Systems with local NVR is becoming a much more reliable tool to counter against vandalism much more effectively. Wireless IP Cameras and rugged NVR’s powered by 4G/LTE and WiFi are able to transmit real time video on the cloud platform using a cellular network. With video management software solutions becoming more intelligent using AI algorithms, there is more that can be achieved from using video surveillance now a days. Besides the temperature, humidity and ventilation data, video feed or video analytics prove to be an extremely useful tool for remote security management as well as for monitoring bird condition and safety.

IoT is revolutionizing the agricultural practices around the world. From livestock or poultry farming to arable agriculture, Internet of Things is transforming food industry in an unprecedented way.

So, when you do find yourself sat around your table, surrounded by family and friends, why not give a little thanks for the technologies enabling you all to come together and share a delicious thanksgiving dinner.

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