Cargill’s smart­phone app for re­mote anal­y­sis of feed, milk

Stephen Cado­gan

Irish Examiner - Farming - - TECHNOLOGY FOCUS -

Man­ag­ing for­age anal­y­sis via a con­ve­nient hand­held de­vice and smart­phone app is now well es­tab­lished, and US-based feed giants Cargill have got in on the act with their new Re­veal anal­y­sis ser­vice, which was one of the win­ners in the Top 10 New Prod­ucts Com­pe­ti­tion at the re­cent World Ag Expo in Tu­lare, Cal­i­for­nia.

The big ad­vance achieved is that the de­vice can also be used to an­a­lyse milk.

By com­bin­ing their global for­age data­base with the world’s first pocket-sized near-in­fra-red con­nected mi­cro-spec­trom­e­ter made by SCiO, Cargill en­ables dairy farm­ers to quickly an­a­lyse both for­age and whole milk sam­ples on the farm. Users can quickly de­ter­mine the dry mat­ter of their for­age to make ra­tion ad­just­ments in real­time.

The app saves an elec­tronic record of each anal­y­sis.

But what is new is the milk anal­y­sis ca­pa­bil­ity, al­low­ing dairy farm­ers the abil­ity to also in­stantly an­a­lyse raw milk for fat, pro­tein and to­tal solids. What is hap­pen­ing is that when the de­vice is used to scan sam­ples, it com­pares them against the Cargill For­age Lab “in the cloud”, which is part of the global Cargill data­base of feed in­gre­di­ents, the largest in the world, so the anal­y­sis-com­par­i­son is as ac­cu­rate as pos­si­ble.

In the United States, the Re­veal anal­y­sis app is free to down­load, but re­quires an ac­tive sub­scrip­tion to log in.

It can be down­loaded on to any iOS or An­droid smart­phone mo­bile de­vice.

In the US, the ini­tial in­vest­ment is $499 (€407) for the SCiO de­vice, with a monthly ser­vice fee of $180 (€147), and a 12-month con­tract com­mit­ment.

The monthly ser­vice fee in­cludes ac­cess to dry mat­ter and whole milk cal­i­bra­tions, which are con­tin­u­ously be­ing re­fined and up­dated “in the cloud”.

To scan whole milk, there is a liq­uid ac­ces­sory that costs an ad­di­tional $65.

The pay­off in­cludes be­ing able to quickly an­a­lyse the dry mat­ter con­tent of for­ages, and there­fore ad­just the ra­tion for more con­sis­tent in­take by the herd.

Dry mat­ter vari­a­tion is an im­por­tant vari­able to keep tabs on, in US dairy farm­ing.

The Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin has shown dry mat­ter vari­a­tion of around 6-10% be­tween lots of al­falfa or corn silages.

Those vari­a­tions can re­sult in lost pro­duc­tion, wasted nu­tri­ents, or both.

The Cargill Re­veal kit can be used on the farm for fast anal­y­sis of for­age or milk.

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