Is the RBI fit for the ‘Internet of Cows?’

If you Google the ‘Internet of Cows‘ you will see that not only is it a serious topic, its also one that we in New Zealand should take very seriously. If you want to get all agri-techie follow some of the links to get an idea of what is coming for Daisy and Buttercup.

But since we’re all pretty dependent on white gold for a big chunk of our national well being its worth stopping to think about how Daisy and Buttercup are getting on-line. At the moment most of our IoC consists of an RFID eartag called NAIT, this is a scheme that was introduced a couple of years ago to keep track of our cattle and deer herds from birth to ermmm ‘processing’, it was introduced primarily for biosecurity purposes but it is also the beginning of an on farm digital revolution.

Because every cow now has a unique digital identifier there is now a growing range of tools for the digital farmer, and we’ll see new and unimagined applications emerge in the coming years.

Allied to this is a whole movement called precision agriculture which is enormously exciting for a gadget loving farm boy like me. In fact we even have the NZ Centre for Precision Agriculture at Massey University who are figuring out how to best use these techniques in our rather unique pastoral farming environment.

So my question is this, is the RBI really good enough for the Internet of Cows (& Sheep & Trees & Rivers & Tractors & Pumps….) because very soon all of these things are going to be sensor equipped, location aware, remote controlled data generating devices. Upload speeds from the farm, orchard, vineyard and forestry blocks are going to matter.

We’ve yet to see a true Farm Area Network technology emerge, and I’m not sure any of the farmers I know will pay for lots of little data transmissions over 3&4G networks, they will need serious connections into their farm offices and from there to the cloud where all this data is going to be processed.

My picks are some kind of local super WiFi that the farmers own, then either ‘fribre from the farn’ as Northpower want to deliver or some form of affordable 4G fixed wireless that can give good 100Mb/s grade service. I’m pretty certain that current copper, satellite and wireless services aren’t going to be that useful to Daisy and Buttercup.

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