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How Hitachi and Happy Cow Creamery Are Using Smart Technology to Advance Agriculture

You’re standing in a field of emerald-green grass, fluffy clouds floating overhead. You’re not alone. You’re sharing the field with a herd of cows — healthy-looking animals with sleek coats. All you hear are the lullaby sounds of a rustling breeze, birdsong and the rhythmic crunch of contented cows feasting on that sweet grass.

There’s a simplicity to this scene. But behind the scenes is a symphony of coordinated effort and smart farming technology that goes into building this reality at Happy Cow Creamery in South Carolina each day.

Keeping happy cows happy, in fact, is the driving mission of dairy farmer and entrepreneur Tom Trantham III, whose family owns and operates Happy Cow Creamery. One of the pressing needs was the ability to monitor the temperatures of freezers and coolers used to store the dairy’s products. Neither Trantham nor his staff had time to keep an eye on those temperatures 24/7. But without that constant monitoring, the slightest glitch in the equipment could spell disaster. Thousands of dollars’ worth of product could be lost before Trantham even knew there was a problem.

The Hitachi team worked with Trantham for a solution using Hitachi HiQ eSystems products. HiQ eSystems Glacier sensors monitor temperature levels in coolers and freezers, and the HiQ eSystems Access System provides automated alerts as needed. For Trantham and his staff, that innovation for temperature control resulted in one less ball to juggle every day.

Trantham also needed some help in managing the dairy farm’s lagoon. The lagoon performs the dual tasks of storing the waste generated from the dairy’s cows while converting the waste into a form of natural fertilizer to apply to the farm’s pastures. A key tool in enabling sustainability, the lagoon requires careful monitoring and management. Hitachi’s digital lagoon monitoring was the answer. “With Hitachi sensors on our lagoon, we have the ability to monitor the level,” Trantham says. “If we have a huge storm and a lot of rain, we can be alerted to the fact that the lagoon is getting to a point where it needs to be pumped down. We take that lagoon water and put it back on our fields, fertilizing our fields with it instead of buying fertilizer.”

And keeping happy cows happy certainly requires keeping them well-fed. Craig Kerkove, President and CEO of Hitachi High-Tech America, Inc., says that involves testing a feed-bin-level sensor. “The idea is to notify feed buyers when they need to order a new batch of feed, or even how to connect with the food supplier when it's time for delivery. This keeps the farm efficient, and it's also more environmentally friendly because the process is automated, and we don't have people constantly coming to check these levels,” Kerkove says.

Hitachi also helps with another concern that most modern farmers must face: the risk of negative environmental impacts that could result in compliance violations. “If our regulatory group comes in and sees, for example, that we have a lagoon overflowing, then there can be fines involved,” Trantham explains.

Hitachi’s mission of powering good is about helping businesses deliver better products to consumers and making businesses more sustainable. One way that Hitachi powers good is by helping the environment through the products and services businesses deliver instead of harming it. Hitachi’s collaboration with Trantham and Happy Cow Creamery has been an important relationship in the advancement of smart agriculture solutions.

Hitachi has leveraged the partnership with Happy Cow Creamery in developing new smart sensor technologies, along with integrations with other operational tools, to introduce a new level of operational efficiencies into the agricultural process. Hitachi Smart Agriculture enables improvements in agricultural processes and operational capabilities while delivering better outcomes for the environment and sustainability, without compromising one for the other.