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27 October 2022 / by Victor Liao

Victor Liao

Intensive pig farming, also known as the ‘intensive piggery system’, has become the primary method of farming in the pig industry. According to this method, pigs are housed indoors and confined in individual stalls or straw-lined sheds at high stocking density, while keeping pigs of similar ages to live together in large crowds under common environmental settings. By doing so, feeding efficiency is significantly improved, and emerging technologies are often employed to maintain pig health and safeguard pig growth - monitoring various environmental parameters inside the barns with wireless temperature and humidity sensors is an exemplary case in point.
In the Netherlands, for environmental reasons, air scrubbers are deployed on most farms, and all the air is sucked out of the barn through a central ventilation chamber and is scrubbed before going outside, to prevent ammonia pollution in the environment. The barns are mostly closed with no access from the outside. Therefore, local farmers cannot monitor every pig and must rely on technology to make sure the conditions in every barn are constant. To address this challenge with increased transparency and accuracy, Stal Data decided to livestream the living conditions of pigs through monitoring diverse environmental parameters with Seeed Studio’s SenseCAP environmental sensors utilizing the LoRaWAN® standard. (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Pig Barn Being Livestreamed in the NetherlandsFigure 1. Pig Barn Being Livestreamed in the Netherlands

ⓒ Stal Data

Monitoring Environmental Conditions and Pig Health With Sensors Utilizing LoRaWAN

Based in the Netherlands, Stal Data is a technology solutions company that focuses on improving the well-being of pigs by monitoring animal behaviors and their living environment. By utilizing SenseCAP sensors to build a LoRaWAN network in the farm, it can monitor different environmental conditions of pig farms.

How does this work? Stal Data builds the LoRaWAN network in only 3 steps (Figure 2):

  1. Deploy a gateway leveraging LoRaWAN connectivity

  2. Deploy SenseCAP S210x environmental sensors utilizing LoRaWAN to collect and analyze data

  3. Visualize data analytics on the web and SenseCAP Mate App

Figure 2. SenseCAP Solutions Using LoRaWANFigure 2. SenseCAP Solutions Using LoRaWAN

ⓒ Seeed Studio

The gateway using LoRaWAN is featured with the ability to communicate and operate over long distances (up to 10km of LoRaWAN coverage). In addition to ultra-low power consumption (sensors’ battery life of up to 10 years), the LoRaWAN standard enables the devices with easy and wireless deployment, thus helping farmers significantly reduce the deployment cost.

Monitoring temperature and humidity is important in pig farming scenarios because it helps farmers to understand what is going on with the climate inside the pig barns (Figure 3). As an example, Stal Data observed the air was very hot and humid in the rear room of the barns. It placed 12 temperature and humidity sensors using LoRaWAN inside the room. By measuring the temperature and humidity, it found out that the temperature in the rear end of the room was always 5 degrees higher than the front end of the room - where the air gets sucked out of the room. After learning this insight, Stal Data placed an extra air ventilator in the rear end of the room to circulate the air to the front end of the room. In this way, the temperature can be maintained at an almost equal level.

By measuring CO2 concentration level, Stal Data can check the minimum ventilation level for the ventilation system. The minimum ventilation level must be set so that the CO2 concentration level never exceeds 3000ppm CO2. When it reaches 3000ppm CO2, the minimum ventilation percentage must be set to be higher. Furthermore, when the concentration is higher in the front end of the room than in the rear end, it signifies that the front end does not obtain as much clean air as the rest of the room with a lower CO2 concentration level. In this way, it can check if the air is distributed equally across the room in the barn.

Another important environmental measurement needed for sound pig growth is ammonia (NH3) concentration level because it is very irritating to the mucous membranes of pigs. Ideally, for piglets, the concentration should be lower than 8ppm ammonia. However, if the pigs reach 30 kilos, the concentration level should be lower than 15ppm ammonia. By deploying NH3 sensors utilizing LoRaWAN inside the barns, Stal Data gets real-time, accurate data on the ammonia concentration level to take preventative measures before it exceeds the ideal threshold.

Figure 3. CO2, Temperature, and Humidity Wireless Sensors Using LoRaWANFigure 3. CO2, Temperature, and Humidity Wireless Sensors Using LoRaWAN

Inside Stal Datas Pig Barn

Stal Data

Build LoRa®-Enabled Solutions with SenseCAP

Integrating Semtech’s LoRa® devices, SenseCAP has launched comprehensive solutions from the end to the Cloud, supporting end users to build Internet of Things (IoT) applications (Figure 4). As the wireless platform of choice for IoT, LoRa connects sensors to the Cloud and enables real-time communication of data and analytics that can be utilized to enhance efficiency, productivity and sustainability.

At this time, a series of SenseCAP S210x environmental sensors using LoRaWAN are available to support a wide range of industrial applications like precision farming, smart city, wildlife conservation, and more. Together with SenseCAP Mate APP, end users can finish the deployment in a matter of minutes, and get real-time data simultaneously.

Figure 4. Architecture of SenseCAP S210x Environmental Sensors With LoRaWANFigure 4. Architecture of SenseCAP S210x Environmental Sensors With LoRaWAN

ⓒ Seeed Studio

To learn more about SenseCAPs devices using LoRa, explore them all here

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Semtech, LoRa and the LoRa logo are registered trademarks or service marks of Semtech Corporation or its affiliates.

Topics: LoRa, Smart Agriculture, Wireless RF, Internet of Things, ESG

Victor Liao

Written by Victor Liao

Victor Liao is a marketing manager at Seeed Studio - an AIoT open source solution provider for all types of traditional industries' sustainable digitalization. At the corporate level, he is responsible for marketing implementation of industrial devices using LoRaWAN®. His topics of interest include smart city solutions, precision agriculture techniques and decentralized wireless networks.

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