Taking remote control

While farmers like the idea of controlling piggeries and crop stores remotely, using an app on a smartphone or tablet, they are not yet ready to do away with the conventional control panel with all its knobs and buttons.

This is the provisional conclusion from surveys carried out by Anita Woolf, research student for Reading-based technology company, Farmex, in advance of the launch of Dicam 2 at the British Pig and Poultry Fair.

Dicam controllers are widely used to manage temperatures and other functions in livestock houses and crop stores, both in the UK and internationally. Dicam 2 will be a much more powerful model, offering a number of remote-control options.

Ms Woolf is conducting surveys into the farming community’s attitude to the need for retaining the traditional panel-mounted interfaces when there is the potential to increase flexibility using an app without installing a control panel at all.

“Broadly, while both sides show interest in the app, there is a definite reluctance to let the panel-mounted interface go, even if it costs more,” said Ms Woolf.

Those favouring the panel feel it’s useful to make changes in the room where you can ‘see’ the environment. They also worry that new livestock handlers using an app would just use the technology and look at numbers rather than the animals in their charge. Loss of connectivity is also a concern.

However, the portability of the app allowing changes to be made off site, and the fact that it would be free, are seen as distinct advantages.

Farmex managing director, Hugh Crabtree, said that farmers will be offered both options and predicts that the market will eventually favour remote access.

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