Ant Know-how Could Access the Wireless for Pigs

UK - Computer systems specialist, David Dobson has been appointed by Berkshire-based technology company Farmex to research methods that could revolutionise the way piggery systems are controlled and monitored.
calendar icon 9 January 2008
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David, (pictured), has a First Class honours degree in computer science, and will be investigating the potential of wireless communication methods. During his studies he used a computer simulation of the biological behaviour of an ant colony to learn about the complex communications needed for the development of a 'self-healing mesh' network. He believes the system could have valuable applications in many areas of agriculture.

Farmex's two-year project, costing £100,00, has attracted almost 70 per cent government funding. It aims to assess the feasibility of wireless communication in what is essentially a harsh environment of pig farming. The main focus will be on forming reliable links, something David feels may be accomplished using a 'self-healing mesh system'. This kind of system will function regardless of atmospheric conditions and have many advantages. Cost would be dramatically reduced, as there would be no need to lay wires and cables, and the network would be less susceptible to lightning strikes or other physical disruptions.

And wireless connection will also enable easier monitoring of vital performance indicators, such as feed intake and water consumption, says Hugh Crabtree, Farmex managing director.

"With ever-tightening margins in pig production this will become increasingly important," he added.
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