How One Ontario Turkey Farm Is Digitizing Agriculture
Technology When you think of high-tech industries, it may well be that agrifoods is one of the last that would come to mind.
But, there is no sector that has not been touched by the information revolution of the last few decades, and a growing number of farms are eager to reap the benefits new technology offers.
Hayter’s Farm, family-owned and located in Dashwood, Ontario, has fully embraced advanced IoT technology in what may seem an unlikely field: turkey farming.
Sean Maguire, Director of Operations at Hayter’s Farm, says we shouldn’t be so surprised to see IoT making its way into agrifoods, an industry where reliable monitoring has always been paramount. “Food safety is a key driver here,” says Maguire. “We’ve always appreciated the importance of temperature control and, as consumers become more savvy, they want to be assured the temperature has been safely maintained throughout the supply chain.”
This assurance is exactly the sort of challenge IoT technology excels at solving. In collaboration with Kitchener-based IoT firm blueRover,
Hayter’s Farm has installed IoT temperature sensors throughout their operations, and the results have been profound. “There was a lot of labour and manual documentation involved in monitoring temperatures before,” says Maguire. “Now it’s available automatically on our computers, our tablets, our phones.”
“Half the value is in labour savings,” continues Maguire, “the other half is that we are now getting far more data. We don’t just get the momentary temperature checks, we get a constant stream of data, so we can better see anomalies and figure out corrective actions. All this new information gives us a lot of insight into ways to modify our processes to be even more efficient.”
Instead, go where there is no path
To hear Sean tell it, it seems like the decision to bring IoT to the farm was an obvious one, but he doesn’t give himself and his team enough credit for their foresight. They are not alone in their industry when it comes to making use of new technology, but few operations have been as ambitious and proactive as Hayter’s Farm. “It requires a vision of innovation and sustainability, as well as a firm commitment to consistent quality, for a company to embrace technology like this early on,” says Ignacio Paz, General Manager, IoT, at Rogers Communications, blueRover’s exclusive partner. “Hayter’s Farm embodies all of these qualities. As long as they continue to adopt innovation as they have, they will remain ahead of the curve.”
And, Hayter’s Farm is indeed continuing to push innovation. Having seen the benefits of IoT solutions they’ve already implemented, they are now looking into adding further systems to monitor feed flow and water flow. They are also beginning to extend their IoT network both up and down the supply chain, in pursuit of an unbroken information chain that tracks their process from feed to bird to retail outlet. “If we can push the technology downstream to the customer and upstream to our vendors and suppliers, it lets us own the whole process,” says Maguire. “The goal is to ensure anything that goes out with the Hayter’s Farm name on it is the best quality it can be.”
It’s a mission consumers can easily get behind. And, thanks to Hayter’s Farm’s trailblazing, it’s a vision we can hope to see take root and spread through the agrifoods sector as a whole.