4-H Science of Agriculture: GPS Ear Tag team

4-H Science of Agriculture: GPS Ear Tag team


This is the Schiefelbein farm it was was founded
in 1955 by my father-in-law. Currently there are eight families involved in this operation
and currently we have 800 registered angus cattle and 1200 cattle on feed. My team is
creating a GPS tracking device that would be placed in an ear tag in cattle. It would
notify the owner when cattle would break the barrier and be out. That way the farmer doesn’t
have to constantly check his cattle. The tag issue evolved when we had some cattle up in
Northolm which is about four hours away. The cattle got out in the middle of the night.
It was quite the feat to get them back in, so when the story was told it was decided
that they could track on the phone where the cattle were. So we came up with the dimensions
of the tag, the size we’d like it to be. And then when we received the GPS we developed
the ear tag further so that the GPS would be able to fit on the ear tag but not get
in the cow’s way. When we looked at an ear tag we realized that it wouldn’t have been
big enough to actually hold the tracker and have our numbers written for the identification.
So we actually took it to a 3D printer to see if they could extend the tag and make
it longer so that we could have the tracker on the lower part and then have the number
written across the top. We worked with Erik from the DNR on how they track the moose and
we were able to learn how they power their collars on the moose and how they are able
to last so long. At first we started looking at solar because because we figured, hey,
they’re outside all day. They should be able to generate solar, but then we realized we’d
have to have a really big solar panel and that wouldn’t fit well on the ear tag. So
then we went with GPS tracking and we had to figure out how the battery life would work.
We’ve got it where it lasts 8 hours right now and we’re hoping to improve that over
time. Overall we’re hoping that one day we’ll be able to have it like a pacemaker where
it’s instant charge so every year when they go through the shoot they’ll get an instant
recharge and the tag is good for another year. My team would be interested in getting this
item patented because it would be able to help other farmers, and it takes a lot of
stress off the farmer. As anybody involved in the ranching industry knows, cattle have
a mind of their own and they like to do their own thing. This is just another way to track
them without having to physically be there. If conditions aren’t perfect, you know where
those cattle are at all times. I think the Science of Ag Challenge will really help me
because it really helps with problems solving. You actually have to really think through
it and go, OK–this didn’t work, so now what am I going to try to figure it out? And this
year through problem solving, I’ve learned that I actually want to go into research and
development in the food industry. It’s taught me to work well with others and especially
my team mates and it also showed me that it’s not going to always work the first time. You
have to try and try again. And that way it can be the way you want it, you can make it
perfect.

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