Autofarm: monitoring and digital control for farms

Author: Aida Xercavins - June 5, 2018

Autofarm is a Spanish initiative to apply efficient, sustainable, agile and profitable management and control technologies in livestock farms. The aim of the company is to simplify the monitoring and management of farms. The software can be used on tablets, smartphones and computers. It allows to visualize data from the on-farm sensors and to act remotely on the system (manually or automatically) in order to correct any deviation from normality. The remote connection enables to evaluate the farm situation and make decisions without being physically there. This results in better response times and cheaper efforts. 

Autofarm is based on a modular architecture where a large number of controls and sensors can be implemented. Thus, to extend the functionality you just have to install additional sensor control modules, so the possibilities are unlimited.

     

Photos (from left to right)  Autofarm sensorbox, sensorbox connected to a sounding line for weather monitoring; module for window control. 

Although the company has specific sensors for farms, the interface is also capable of working with the data of any type of sensor already installed. So far, Autofarm has only been used in pig farms, but it is a very flexible tool that can be implemented on any type of farm.

What can it monitor? 

  • Internal climate (temperature and humidity sensors)
  • External climate or weather (temperature and humidity sensors and anemometer)
  • Feed storage tanks capacity (weight sensors)
  • Water level indicator on tanks or wells
  • Meter box control
  • Counter for water consumption (flow meters)
  • Gas concentration meters
  • Intrusion or presence detection systems

What can be controlled and changed? 

  • Passive air conditioning systems (control of the opening of the windows).
  • Active air conditioning systems (control of the ventilation system, fogging, heating…).
  • Opening and closing of the doors.
  • Control of the water flow (open/closed) in case that water losses are detected.
  • Timed feeding
  • Lighting control 

 

 

 

Two examples of the User interface of Autofarm (Above): detail of the external climate control (temperature, anemometer), with the historical graph.(Below): Detail of the water consumption of two different pens (the evolution can be seen in the graph) as well as the status of the line (at the moment open, but can be closed remotely from this screen). 

Autofarm is a stand-alone system that does not need internet connection to perform its functions. There are two ways to access the system in order to display the registered data and control or modify the system:

  • Local access mode: the system includes its own private network. Therefore, you always can connect to it with any device (by Wi-Fi) that is within its coverage range.
  • Remote access mode: you also can access remotely (out of scope of the local network) and receive alarms in real-time.  In this case, you will need Internet connection through any technology (3G/4G, satellite, etc.).

Regardless of quality connection (short interruptions, low speed, instability), or if it does not exist at any given time (because of power cuts or long cuts), the system will remain operative and you can always access to it by using the local access mode.

The user interface shows all the sensors data in real time, as well as reports and historical graphs to assess the evolution of profitability.

From the app, any type of actuator device can be controlled in two ways: manually (for example, if an escape is detected you can close manually the water flow) or automatically based on the sensors data (for example, controlling windows or ventilation system to keep the temperature within an acceptable range). The system also includes configurable alarms to warn you of any marked deviation from normally so you can react accordingly. The aim is to correctly manage the herd, maintain optimal conditions for the animals and control the production costs.

At the moment Autofarm is only available in the local market (Spain) but as soon as possible they will take the leap into the international market.