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Poop sensors, drones, and robots: Automation at the farm – Source

At first, the horse that greeted press attendees at an October 20 event at Mount Vernon looked decidedly analog. But as a Virginia Tech professor turned Mikey around, an unusual bit of technology came into view: a small box attached to a wrap around his tail.

The use case involved poop.

“We’re in the middle of the data revolution,” said Robin White, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech’s Department of Animal and Poultry Sciences and its Center for Advanced Innovation in Agriculture, before explaining that this pod included sensors to detect the telltale motions of the horse going to the bathroom.

“It seems like it might be an invasion of Mikey’s privacy,” she joked. But manure management matters at farms, where more data could help to reduce their fertilizer applications and limit runoffs into nearby waterways.

White next pointed to a less obvious sensor attached to the horse’s bridle that recorded Mikey’s activity and heart rate.

“We’ll know when he’s resting…

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