Last week we had the good fortune of connecting with a number of ranchers at the Superior Livestock Auction in Steamboat, CO. Unfortunately, downward pressure on the market caused a bit more stress than many of the attendees would have preferred. However, we did have some great conversations about how technology can help ranchers save time and reduce some of that stress.
Every Ranch Is Different
If it hadn’t already been obvious, our discussions made it clear that every livestock operation is different. While many livestock management problems are widespread, ranches come in all shapes and sizes. Variables unique to individual ranches include climate, soil, grass varieties, watering sources, acreage, terrain, cattle breed, wildlife management issues, and more. Nobody knows a ranch’s details like the individual rancher, so “one size fits all” technology solutions won’t always work in the livestock industry.
Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) Allow for Flexible Solutions
Because every operation is different, technology must be able to provide flexible tools that can be simultaneously affordable and customizable. For this reason, we believe Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) systems have the potential to provide value to ranchers and farmers across the livestock industry. Many problems, such as monitoring water tanks, are fairly prevalent across the industry. For these “common” problems, monitoring solutions will be mass produced and, therefore, very affordable. However, not all problems are as common as checking water. For unique problems, modern engineering methods enable a small team of engineers to quickly design, build, and manufacture custom tailored devices. LPWAN is the foundational component that enables the deployment of custom solutions for ranchers and farmers. If those custom solutions can be scaled across the industry to help other operators, then the cost will be further reduced for those solutions.
It’s important to note that LPWAN is capable of two-way communication. Therefore, devices on the network are capable of controlling remote systems--such as generators or pumps. In our discussions last week, once ranchers understood that LPWAN devices are flexible and customizable, they shared some great ideas that we had not yet considered about how LPWAN technology could help them monitor or control remote assets. Most of the ideas were in the realm of possible--except for the one about having robots fix broken fence...we’re not quite there yet.
If you did not catch the Superior Sunrise show on July 14th, I was interviewed about what we’re doing at Barn Owl.
Concerning Kirbe's question “How can technology help ranchers across the livestock industry?” I want to be clear that we don’t pretend to have all of the answers. We certainly have some ideas about how remote monitoring and analytics can help ranchers and farmers save time and money. However, our goal is to be a customer led company. With insight and input from ranchers and farmers, we will develop solutions that are much more valuable than something we could have come up with by ourselves. Please let us know if there is a remote monitoring or control application we can help you with by filling out our inquiry form.