By Lee Rickwood
Mobile computing is coming to the farm.
In fact, a new iPhone application developed in Ontario will now let farmers test their herd’s milk quality right in the barn.
Milk produced by dairy farms must be carefully tested for signs of infection or contamination before being sold to the public, and a series of strict standards are in place to protect us when we buy milk, or other processed dairy products like cheese and ice cream.
But the testing process can be difficult. Each cow must be tested, and separate milk samples have to be taken on a regular basis and sent off to a lab. The cost per test is high and it takes time to get a result back.
But now, there’s an app for that.
And it’s being demonstrated at a major international agricultural fair, called World Dairy Expo out of Wisconsin; the fair will hold a special Dairy Cattle Show at which more than 2,500 head of cattle will be shown.
Dairy Quality Inc, a Canadian agriculture innovation company, has already unveiled its new smartphone application and special adaptor kit called Milk Guardian that allows the all-important testing to be done right at the cow, and it is showing the process at that Expo.
The costs of each app-enabled test are said to be just a fraction of what they are now.
With the new software app and a companion hardware testing device, dairy farmers can do the test right in the barn – doors open or closed!
They draw a sample of milk and load it into a chamber in the device, where chemical reagents that identify cells in the sample are automatically mixed in.
The device’s imaging technology scans the milk sample, it and other parameters are analyzed and stored in the application; an image scan is captured by the iPhone camera, and displayed on-screen in a matter of seconds.
Test results can be synced with other iPhones, or shared with other PC applications, like herd management software.
Instant feedback and immediate access to test results are key: a sick cow can be removed from production right away, instead of waiting to find out if one needs help. And the timing for the introduction of the new technology couldn’t be better, the company reports.
New health standards for milk from North American farms, almost twice as stringent as previous in some regions, have recently been put into place.
Dairy Quality teamed up with Queensville, ON-based mobile computing and application developer mpengo Ltd. to design, develop and bring the product to market.
mpengo is operated by Gary Jonas and Mary Jones; he is the chief architect and designer, and the founder of several other computer and business software companies. Mary, who joined forces with Gary several years ago, is CFO at the company and is responsible for building the development and marketing team there.
Mpengo recently celebrated its first year of application development, and it has a strong line-up of products already available. Many of its current apps are business productivity tools developed for mobile professionals; they apps support daily operations of a wide range of companies, businesses, services and work procedures.
The new mpengo Dairy app runs on any iPhone; it and the physical testing kit (iPhone mount, sampling scope and sampling slides) are available online.
submitted by Lee Rickwood