Cartasense is monitoring animals at home and on the range
It won’t help this time around alleviating the swine flu outbreak, but the Israeli company CartaSense has invented a chip to monitor swine health to nab potential viral outbreaks early.
The solution, they say, also works on other livestock – and bees too – so that farmers and apiarists can be alerted immediately if beasts or bees come down with a sniffle. We’ve heard of the bee’s knees, but a bee’s sneeze?
When I met up with CartaSense at the annual Agritech conference in Tel Aviv, reporters were swarming around Sharon Soustiel, the VP of business development.
He told TreeHugger that the company has created technology that can pinpoint individual sick pigs or cows real-time, to help the farmer isolate sickness without contaminating the rest of the animals.
The small chip-based sensor that can be attached to the ear of a pig (see above) which should be ready for market by the end of this year, tracks and traces a number of parameters for all kinds of livestock – even bees.
Hooked up wirelessly to base stations, from where CartaSense monitors an animal’s temperature, the company can measure and monitor heart rate, movements and location. “It could spare us from future outbreaks of mutant viruses transmitted from livestock to humans,” says Soustiel.
Over in the US, where pastures tend to be large and open, “there is now no need to take a helicopter or a Jeep out to the pigs,” says Soustiel. “A farmer can see real-time, from home, the health of any of the animals on the farm and can take swift action, if need be.”
It’s not bull
This kind of solution, he stresses, may be too late to stop the H1Ni virus (swine flu) this time, “but with it we can avoid the next epidemic or breakout disease.”
CartaSense already has a product called Bull-Connect. It’s a sensor attached to the ear of a cow. The Bull-Connect technology is now being adapted for pigs. A single base station will handle thousands of sensors hooked up to porcine subjects.
“A farmer needs to take immediate action if an animal is sick, but rather than checking with veterinarians first – to decide what action to take if one of the animals is sick – our system lets a farmer see for himself and isolate single animals from the group if signs of sickness appear,” says Soustiel.
Saving the bees and the trees
Soustiel notes that the company also has a novel solution for monitoring bee colonies to protect them from theft or colony collapse disorder (CCD). CCD is the mysterious condition that’s decimating bee populations in the US and around the world.
By placing sensors in a thin platform that’s placed below a hive, CartaSense can track its weight. An empty hive weighs about 33 lb (15 kilos), while a full one, containing honey and a healthy bee population, should weigh about 330 lb (150 kilos). Tracking the growth of a hive on a graph, CartaSense can see any deviations from normal hive growth and alert a hive owner immediately.
The chip-based sensor attached to the hive (it would be pretty hard to fit one of those chips on a bee ear!), called Bee-Connect, also tracks bee movement inside the hive, as well as temperature, humidity and CO2 levels, and provides important security information, such as location, in the event that a hive is stolen or damaged.
Lastly, CartaSense has also adapted its technology for trees. Tree-Connect helps farmers to monitor water levels in orchards, by providing data relating to ground humidity levels, fertilizer levels, the amount of salinity in the soil as well as possible infestation.