Monitoring livestock feed remotely

By Kasey Worst

The Food Fix is giving snapshots of how five companies recently pitched their ideas for improving food systems at the Mid Michigan Innovation Center’s 2016 Agriculture Tech Forum in Bay City, Mich.

Day 1: A friendly fungus

Today: Wireless livestock feed monitoring

Advanced Micro Fab-Nano Corporation has combined a new sensor with wireless internet t to reduce animal feed loss.

The company, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has developed a sensor that can be placed on the outside of feed tanks to measure temperature, humidity and other factors that can make good food go bad.

It has multiple advantages their competitors do not have, said Brian Polowniak, vice president of the company.

“Ours is on the outside,” Polowniak said. “It’s totally enclosed sensors. It’s wireless. It reads remote monitoring. It transmits data through a 4G network through a phone app, a,  web app, customized email or text if you don’t want your data stored in the cloud. Or you can store it in the cloud.”

Much of the cost of raising an animal for food comes from feeding it, Polowniak said.About 70 percent of the cost of raising a pig for slaughter is the feed.

If something goes wrong with that feed, the results can be dramatic.

“If those feed stations aren’t accurately monitored, they could have anywhere from two to five percent loss on that feed composition,” Polowniak said. “That could take that $12 (of profit from raising a single pig for the market) and turn it into minus $3.30.”

Polowniak said the removeable wireless sensor can read the biological measurements of a feed tank to within one percent of their actual values.

“That, in the ag industry, is huge,” he said.

The wireless feature is one of the sensor’s best advantages, he said.

Without ever leaving your office, you can track the location and measurements of every solid and liquid tanker truck, he said.

These sensors can be used for measuring tanks filled with anything from milk to feed to water to oil.

Polowniak said his company is seeking about $250,000 to scale up sensor production to meet the demand.

Tomorrow: Farming from the sky

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