Finding iCows

When technology spillover occurs, exciting things invariably happen. We’ve all heard of human-centric lighting, but what of cow-centric setups?  When smart lighting leads to impactful agricultural learning experiences, our four-legged friends benefit too. 

Who knew that wireless lighting control technology that’s usually associated with sexy office refurbishments would yield better milking, improved working and livestock conditions, and big-time farm savings? LED lighting with smart control for localization and pre-programmed scenes has brought benefits for both people and animals at Bäcks Farm outside Säffle, in Sweden.

Farming is by-and-large about timing and patterns, finding a balance between doing something well and doing it on time. Imagine, then, managing a 1,250 m2 barn in which 150 cows freely roam. How on earth do you keep track of who is who, or quickly identify which cows require milking and by when, or single out the right ones for veterinary examinations?  

This has been a major source of annoyance for me because I only work every fourth weekend with the dairy cows, otherwise, we have employees. And I simply don’t recognize the cows in the same way as the employees do’, notes Niklas Johansson, farmer.

A new lighting installation – to replace the barn’s 40-year-old one – from Exaktor by Proton Lighting remedied Niklas’ vexation. Firstly, seeking a quick and easy installation with minimal disruption and zero control cabling, Casambi was chosen. Each fixture and control device was configured and commissioned remotely using Bluetooth. Pre-programmed lighting scenes for cleaning, milking and resting periods have resulted in efficiency gains and a reduction in energy consumption.  

Today, smart lighting systems can seamlessly fill an environment with the perfect amount of light only whenever and wherever it is needed. But they can also become a great canopy for other IoT devices and help transfer data throughout a space.

In this instance, iBeacon technology has been deployed to track cows via a smartphone app.  Additionally, Casambi’s lighting control solution connects with the collar-mounted chips to increase the brightness of luminaires within the vicinity of a searched-for cow. 

This lighting solution is a way for us to see if we can increase our productivity, while at the same time it gives an incredible boost from a working environment perspective’, says Niklas.

I read a lot. Reports from SLU [Swedish University of Agricultural SciencesSveriges lantbruksuniversitet]show that lighting of a certain intensity over a certain period of time can increase milk yield, he adds.

According to the dairy farmer, well-planned lighting is proven to affect the cows’ biological circadian rhythm and activity, which leads to happier cows producing more nutritious milk.

Site
Bäcks Gård, cow farm

Location
Säffle, Sweden

Lighting
Exaktor by Proton Lighting

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