thinking beyond

Smart Farming gets a head start at CUT farm

Communications and Marketing CUT News
Smart Farming gets a head start at CUT farm

Pastures are natural feed to animals and are maintained to ensure good quality and quantity of the feed to get the best animal products.

Unlike traditional ways of managing pastures, which are costly and labour-intensive, the use of technology in farming has introduced the concept of smart farming, making pasture management more manageable and cost-effective.

Smart farming integrates advanced technological methods, including the Internet of Things (IoT), big data, and cloud computing. These concepts enable tracking, monitoring, automating, and complex operational analysis operations. However, even with the use of these new technological techniques, there are still challenges facing pasture management.

Pastures are dependent on climatic conditions; therefore, climate change has a significant impact on pasture management. With the onset of climate change, it has become a challenge for livestock farmers to predict weather conditions making it impossible for decision-makers to deal more effectively with the effects of climate variability. However, the digital twin concept proved to be the best technique to tackle these challenges due to its complex prediction techniques, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

The project is hosted at the CUT farm in Bloemfontein, and a weather station has been set up to gather information about the pasture's growth, such as temperature, soil moisture, and rainfall. The collected data is then brought to a host laptop using ThinkSpeak (IoT analytic platform service that allows aggregation, visualization and analysis of live data streams in the cloud), open-source software for users to communicate with internet-enabled devices). The collected data is then processed using an Artificial Neural Network (ANN) algorithm.

"Based on this algorithm, we are able to predict the temperatures to an accuracy of 1.6 degrees Celsius and, predict the height of the pasture for a given month in the future. This project currently adds value to the CUT farm as it allows the farm managers to plan the feed (natural or artificial) for the animals. Once the veracity of the model has been established, such a project can be rolled out to small and medium-scale farmers within and around the community. This will greatly aid their farming as well as mitigate the challenges brought about by the unforeseen climate changes," said Dr Baby Kuriakose, Snr Lecturer: Electrical Electronics and Computer Engineering.

Uploaded: 07 July 2022
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