Thomas Instrumentation has developed several products for the agricultural market since it was established in 1971. The typical product designs for this industry have revolved around automating basic or time-consuming tasks to reduce costs. As with any product we design, the focus is on ease of use, accuracy, reliability, and low cost. We also recognize that many products for this industry will be subjected to and must survive harsh environmental conditions such as water, snow, ice, wind, heat, humidity, and even potential animal interference.

The following are two of the products developed for this market:

Wireless Estrus Detection System

This product’s design is based on university research on the most accurate and efficient means of detecting estrus (heat) in cows. The concept is that beef and dairy cow breeders will use this system to tell when it’s time to artificially inseminate their cows. The standard system consists of cow monitors, a base station, an access point, and a computer software package. We were hired to update the existing system for solar power and extended range. Thus, our engineers designed all new circuit cards and our software department wrote the operational code for it. The cow monitors saved data and wirelessly transmitted it out to their base stations. These base stations collected data from lots of monitors and wirelessly pushed that data to the access points. The access points connected to the breeder’s computer and specialized software. The software could then identify which cows where ready to be bred.

Automated Grower

This product is a programmable robot designed to replace the watering and spraying tasks of growers. The robot runs on large tracks above the plants in a grower’s facility. Magnetic bar code labels are placed on the track and scanned by the robot to tell it what kind of plant is in the section below it. The grower robot dispenses the pre-programmed proper amounts of water and/or spray for each scanned plant type. It also quickly reports any problems and has sensors to detect boom obstructions, mechanical jams, speed, water pressure, and power issues. These systems provide uniform growth rates while saving growers both time and money.