Revolutionizing agriculture with Norwegian grazing-technology
Only in Norway there are 1,4 million grazing animals in the form of sheep, goats and cattle. In Brazil the equivalent number is 56 million. On a global scale, more than a billion. Now Norwegian grazing technology can ensure that these animals can roam freely with no physical fences.
Nofence AS together with subcontractors Com4, Lillebakk Engineering, Axbit, Minoko and Partnerplast, have developed a GPS-based “sound-fence” for grazing animals, or as Nofence elegantly puts it “grazing-technology”.
Nofence is the result of what the founder says started with a “childish idea” when he was in his teens, more than twenty years ago. Is it possible to fence in animals without physical fences? After many years in the “thinktank”, and after a while with access to GPS technology, the development of a prototype GPS-based sound fence begun in 2005. In 2011 a corporation was formed to speed up the development. After a while strong development environments jumped on the project. Since then it has gone only one way – forward. By summer, 80 Norwegian pilot customers will have tested this grazing technology, as the first in the world. The product is planned to hit the market autumn 2017. The technology is patented in Norway and USA, and a patent application for Europe is awaiting approval.
Landbruksmelding nr 9 (2011-1012) says it is important that the food production industry continuously looks to improve operation and actively make use of new technology which can contribute to streamline and document the operation, reduce losses and secure animal welfare. In addition, it is important to preserve animals, plants and cultural landscapes in connection to grazing land, and also reduce time spent, and cost connected to animal transportation, oversight and gathering. Which is a great challenge in an already pressed industry and everyday life.
Simply explained; Nofence, with the help of amongst others Com4 and Lillebakk Engineering, have developed technology that solves many of the over mentioned challenges and needs. The animals carry a “collar device”, which contains electronics such as a GPS-receiver, and a SIM card from Com4. From the collar device signals are sent and received by the mobile network and passed along to a datacentre. When an animal is on its way out of a defined grazing area, the collar device sends a warning about electrical shock in the form of vibration and a sound that gradually increase up to a defined tone.
To avoid electric shock, the animals must return to the grazing area. Experience show that the animals learn quickly. The shepherd can easily define a grazing area using an app or a web portal. No need for fences and maintenance anymore, better for grazing animals, wild animals and humans.
Oscar Hovde Berntsen, CEO and founder of Nofence, says he is proud that over 80 pilot customers are ready to put the grazing technology to use.
-Despite a low media-profile, there have been a lot of interest in this from farmers from all over the country. We first tested the technology on goats, which has worked beyond our expectations. The animals quickly learn the warning that it is getting close to edge of the grazing area. Our modest claim is that Nofence will revolutionize the use of grazing lands, and at the same time increase animal-welfare, he says.
Technology also opens new sources of revenue for farmers. As an example; some of the customers have begun offering landscaping services. This means grazing services with goats to prevent overgrowth. Formerly you would have to pay for grazing areas, but now you can let the animals graze for payment. Technology also gives behavioural information about the animals, so that integrated logic can send warnings if it indicates illness, injury, predator attacks or that the animal is stuck. With a simple push of a button in the app, you can prevent that the animals gain access to dangerous areas or areas where grazing animals are unwanted. As an example; cabin areas. This is disruptive technology in practice.
Oscar Hovde Berntsen, CEO and founder in Nofence, says Com4 delivers a reliable service for data traffic and is central component of the grazing-technology.
-We are dependent on stable and secure data traffic to allow the farmer to change grazing areas when the animals are grazing, and notification of incidents that require inspection. Com4 and Lillebakk Engineering have been very good partners in the development of the technological solution that in many ways will revolutionize the use of grazing areas, he says.