Selected UK cows already sporting 5G devices

Bringing 5G to agriculture

The US company Cisco Systems is already testing infrastructure for the global rollout of 5G that can be used by various industries that are not too much in the traditional tech bubble such as 5G networks but rely on increasingly more sophisticated hardware and software. This includes the agriculture area. At three different rural locations Cisco is giving farmers access to 5G connected cow collars plus health-monitoring ear tags that are capable of transmitting biometric data. This will enable workers to monitor the herd from a distance.

Agricultural Engineering Precision Innovation Centre or Agri-Epi Centre

The Agri-Epi Centre is in the small town of Shepton Mallet in southwest UK. The centre’s farm has nearly one third of its 180 herd of cows fitted with the 5G collars and tags.

The collars and tags enable monitoring of the cows from a distance quite simple. The cows are often spread out in different areas of the farm but with the tags and collars farmers can keep tabs on the animals all day without having to travel to where the cows happen to be at a given time.

Duncan Forbes, Project Manager at the Agri-Epi Centre said: “We are testing the ability of 5G to transmit the data from our sensors much quicker, and not via the farm’s PC and a slow broadband internet connection. And the significance of that is it means that this sort of technology could be taken up … not just on farms but on rural communities right across the country.”

Communicating with the robotic milking system

The smart collars also help automate the milking process by wirelessly communicating with a “robotic milking system that lets the cow approach the station at its own leisure, pass through the gates after an ID check, and hook up to the robot all with little to no human intervention. ”

Nick Chrissos of Cisco said: “We can connect every cow, we can connect every animal on this farm.That’s what 5G can do for farming — really unleash the power that we have within this farm, everywhere around the UK and everywhere around the world.”

While there are pilot studies of 5G use throughout the world, the first nation wide coverage with 5G is not expected in countries such as China, the US or Japan until about 2023 according to industry analysts. 5G has already been rolled out in the US in a few areas of Chicago and Minneapolis.

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