Thomas Instrumentation has developed several products for the agricultural market since it was established in 1971. The typical product designs for this industry have revolved around automating basic or time-consuming tasks to reduce costs. As with any product we design, the focus is on ease of use, accuracy, reliability, and low cost. We also recognize that many products for this industry will be subjected to and must survive harsh environmental conditions such as water, snow, ice, wind, heat, humidity, and even potential animal interference.
The following are two of the products developed for this market:
HeatWatch – Wireless Estrus Detection System for Cattle
This product represents the most accurate and efficient means of estrus (heat) detection available to beef and dairy breeders using artificial insemination. The basic HeatWatch system consists of cow monitors, a base station, an access point, and a computer software package. The cow monitors are small and are attached to the tailhead of the cattle. Each one is powered by a solar-charged battery, has a capacitive proximity sensor, and uses an RF wireless transmitter to send information to a base station.
The base station is always powered and wirelessly receives all data from the active cow monitors. It also contains extra memory in order to store data records until the access point requests them. The access point connects to the user’s computer and works in conjunction with the HeatWatch software to track the information of each cow. Anytime the computer software is run, the access point wirelessly requests data logs from the base station. This computer software package will notify users of the best time to artificially inseminate each cow. This notification can be given as an email to the user and therefore can be seen at any computer or on any smart phone.
This product is a programmable robot designed to replace the watering and spraying tasks of growers. The robot runs on large tracks above the plants in a grower’s facility. Magnetic bar code labels are placed on the track and scanned by the robot to tell it what kind of plant is in the section below it. The grower robot dispenses the pre-programmed proper amounts of water and/or spray for each scanned plant type. It also quickly reports any problems and has sensors to detect boom obstructions, mechanical jams, speed, water pressure, and power issues. These systems provide uniform growth rates while saving growers both time and money.