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by Sofia Villegas
11 March 2024
IoT technology brings dairy farming closer to net zero

New IOT-supported water heating system to boost the use of renewable energy in diary farming | Alamy

IoT technology brings dairy farming closer to net zero

A Scottish company is using Internet of Things (IoT) technology to make dairy farming more sustainable and efficient. 

Glasgow-based company Soltropy has integrated IoT technology into its new solar-powered water heating systems to enable remote monitoring. 

Dairy farmers use hot water to clean and sanitise their equipment and parlour floors. 

The IOT-connected solar tubes will send automated alerts, highlighting faults and repairs. Over time, data analyses could also predict when maintenance is needed, it is claimed.

With dairy farms often based in remote locations, the new system allows for an alternative off-grid option for renewable energy.

Stuart Speake, managing director of Soltropy, said: “The introduction of IoT and sensors is a big development in our sustainable solar thermal technology and will make it much easier for users to keep on top of system maintenance and performance. The first generation of the system is already used at a number of sites in Scotland and we have seen how it can reduce energy costs and fossil fuel consumption. Using IoT will only add to this, and we hope to see the new connected version installed across sites all over the UK, helping the sector’s transition to net zero.”

Following tests of the new system by Heriot-Watt University researchers, Soltropy plans to complete an on-farm trial and introduce it into the market later this year.

Others who require high levels of hot water, including the hospitality and tourism industry, could also potentially use the thermal technology.

Supported by the Milk Round accelerator hosted by CENSIS – Scotland’s innovation centre for sensing, imaging, and IoT technologies – the smart monitoring method could “lead to the development of new business models that level the playing field for customers to use solar thermal energy,” Speake added.

Powered through heat-generating solar thermal panels, the Glasgow firm’s water heating system can significantly cut energy costs and consumption. Soltropy’s estimates suggest it can cut bills by up to £6,000 per year, depending on the supplier. 

It is also claimed, their panels are 300 per cent more efficient than photovoltaic panels, which convert sunlight to electricity.

Soltropy panels | Soltropy

Soltropy also says its panels don’t require anti-freeze, a resource which has deterred the widespread use of thermal systems in the UK as the liquid needs to be replaced every three years.

The tech initiative is part of the Digital Dairy Chain, a multi-partner project led by Scotland’s Rural College and funded by UK Research and Innovation’s Strength in Places Fund, which aims to transform the dairy processing supply chain in South and West Scotland and Cumbria. 

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