New tools can help poultry growers remotely monitor their barns and birds and detect previously unknown problems. 

In a WATT Poultry Chat interview, BarnTools Chief Operating Officer Jim Ryken discussed his company's smart agriculture solution that allows farmers to assess conditions in their barn remotely and learn from resource usage.

Austin Alonzo: Jim, what is smart agriculture and where does BarnTools fit in? 

Jim Ryken: So smart agriculture for us at BarnTools, we really focus on how animal agriculture can be impacted and improved by introducing technology. And for us, we're doing that with our wireless remote monitoring system, which we call BarnTalk. 

This is a new product that we are launching that will allow you to quickly install a system in your poultry, broiler, your finisher, a greenhouse. And we monitor temperature, humidity, power, water. And we're working on additional sensors. So on your mobile app, on the barn talk mobile app, you can see real time conditions in your facility, even when you're 100 miles, hundreds of miles away.

We also allow you to set up thresholds, which are basically warnings, there's a warning threshold and an emergency threshold. A warning threshold gives you kind of a passive notification that something is outside of the norm. And an emergency threshold will actually start to call your phone to draw your attention. So you know, "Hey, something's going on. I need to get there."

Austin Alonzo: How does BarnTalk work? 

Jim Ryken: So when you install the communication gateway, in your facility, we have a SIM card mounted inside that box. There's an antenna that you put in the window or outside the building that will connect to your cell tower. There's a second antenna that has a wireless communication signal, which automatically connects or pairs up with our wireless sensors. So this is the form factor, this is a temperature sensor.

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It runs on on batteries. The battery life is two to three years. That will automatically connect back to this gateway which you have installed in your building. And that sends the information to the cloud, where it's stored in the cloud. It can be viewed by you, you can look at historical data so you can get a temperature history graph. The cloud is also where we also store and monitor those thresholds I mentioned earlier for creating the alerts. 

Austin Alonzo: What kind of financial performance benefits are customers deriving from BarnTalk? 

Jim Ryken: That's a great question. Austin, I think, on one hand installing this system is low cost. You can install this in a facility for like $1,500. No wiring. So it's better than a traditional alarm system. You don't have to run wires throughout the building, you can actually install it yourself. And then once you've got the parameters, the sensors set up, and you're measuring things. You have the ability to respond to high temperature, or low temperature, so quickly get to a facility if it's outside of normal, which could affect animal well being. 

The biggest savings we've seen is actually from monitoring water consumption. You can detect leaks, you can detect failures in the system and be notified within a matter of hours that something's not right, and save water from being lost. If water consumption stops, then you know your animals are without water. And that can have a huge financial impact to those animals. And so knowing all of that about your facility allows you to prevent loss and improve growth rates.

Austin Alonzo: Where can farmers learn more about BarnTools?

Jim Ryken: You can check out our website, BarnTools.com and we featured BarnTalk right at the homepage of our website you can also learn learn more about our company there and some of the other products we make.

This transcript edited for length and clarity.