Imagine being able to track your cattle’s vitals without touching them. It’s possible, thanks to a Colorado tech company called HerdDogg.
The company, exhibiting for the first time at the World Ag Expo in Tulare, has developed a system that can measure a cow’s movement and temperature, and sync that information to a mobile phone.
It’s the kind of agricultural innovation found at the expo, which kicked off its 50th anniversary Tuesday with more than 1,400 exhibitors and thousands of visitors from throughout the state, nation and beyond.
Billed as the largest event of its kind in the world, the expo runs through Thursday and expects to draw more than 100,000 visitors during its three-day run.
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As part of celebrating its 50th anniversary, the expo held an opening day ceremony in the Expo arena, complete with a live performance of the national anthem, presentation of colors and a ribbon cutting.
Then it was on to the exhibits, equipment and food booths.
HerdDogg works by reading information collected by a tag in the cow’s ear. A device shaped like a dog bone reads the data.
The reader is placed near a watering hole or other place where cattle regularly gather.
Recently, the founders of HerdDogg tested the system using a drone from All Drone Solutions. The drone with the reader attached flew about 30 feet above a herd of cows on a ranch east of Clovis.
“It was a real success,” said Melissa Brandao, chief executive officer of HerdDogg. “We collected the data and the cows did fine.”
Brandao said the technology allows livestock owners to spot and solve problems early. For example, the reader can pick up whether a cow becomes lethargic and its temperature increases.
“The technology enhances a farmers insight into their animals,” Brandao said. “It strikes the right balance between letting technology help you and visually observing the cow.”
HerdDoggg is being used in seven states. The company hopes to gain new customers in California.
“We like to tell people it is like a fitness tracker for cows,” said Diane Jones, HerdDogg chief financial officer.
Grow lights find a huge market in pot
Cannabis growers may not be the exact target market for the World Ag Expo, but there is at least one vendor at the Tulare gathering who understands who his potential customers are.
Thomas Barczyk of Poland-based Grow-Spec is a partner in a company that produces grow lights for indoor gardening and farming. The LED lights offer a wide spectrum of colors, depending on the needs of the plant.
Grow-Spec is a joint venture that combines research and development from experts in Poland with the manufacturing expertise of a Chinese company.
The company says its lights can be used on a multitude of plants, but marijuana growers are among its most frequent customers.
That means Grow-Spec’s display at the International Agri-Center is the center of a huge growth market: California, whose voters legalized recreational pot last fall.
“We have developed a light specifically for cannabis growers and they are extremely excited about it,” Barczyk said Tuesday. “But our lights can also be used to grow lettuce or strawberries.”
Grow-Spec has received interest from growers of vertical farms in urban areas to home gardeners. The company is in the process of looking for U.S. distributors for their lighting systems and have been encouraged by the response from visitors at the World Ag Expo.
Tiny tractors with a matching price tag
New Holland is one of the largest tractor sellers in the industry, but not everything it brought to the World Ag Expo is going to cost a bundle. The company is promoting its new line of compact tractors that appeal to small farmers or owners of large properties. It drives easily and is powerful enough to take on heavy duty jobs.
The compact tractor, called the Boomer, starts at $22,500. It looks just like its much larger cousins that cost more than $250,000.
Mike Cornman, segment marketing manager for New Holland, said the compact tractor was named, in part, after the Baby Boomer population that is among its core customers.
“It fits,” Cornman said.
People use the Boomer and the Workmaster, a fellow compact tractor, for everything from tilling to mowing.
New Holland also introduced on Tuesday its latest entry in the utility vehicle category. Partnering with Textron, a Georgia maker of specialized vehicles, New Holland rolled out the Rustler 850, a slick-looking vehicle that can hit a top speed of 45 mph. It’s powered by a 65 horsepower, gas-powered engine.
“It’s something we call a crossover vehicle because it is a perfect work vehicle, but it is also for farmers who like the recreational side of the outdoors,” said Hamish Lusty, vice president for Textron.
The World Ag Expo was the first time for many to see the Rustler that begins production in April. Cost: $14,995.
The expo runs through Thursday at the International Agri-Center.