A Dundas company is teaming up with Farm & Food Care Ontario to help reduce one of the worst things that can happen to a farmer: a catastrophic barn fire.
The partnership between Farm & Food Care Ontario, Dundas-based Harvest Robotics and the province’s farm mutual insurance companies was announced in February. Harvest Robotics will create a heat sensor to give farmers advance warning of potential trouble zones.
“The heat sensing system is capable of identifying temperatures above preset limits, ideally identifying potential fire-sources before they start,” said Brent Royce, animal care consultant with Farm & Food Care Ontario.
“The idea is to produce something that’s both practical and cost effective for farmers.”
The system will make regular scans of specific areas within the barn, and compile data to map temperature. That mapping can be used to identify temperature irregularities, and notify farmers of changing conditions.
A prototype of the sensor is expected to be field tested this summer. The ultimate goal is to produce a device that’s affordable, commercially viable and easy to use. The project is expected to wrap up in the fall.
“We hope that research projects that utilize technology for fire prevention will result in reducing the toll that barn fires take each year,” said John Taylor of the Ontario Mutual Insurance Association, which represents the province’s farm mutual insurance companies.
Taylor said his organization’s members see the project as an opportunity to “partner with like-minded groups who have a deep concern on the safety of animals and the well-being of farm families.”
Niagara has been hit with a series of barn fires in recent years, including a devastating fire in Thorold last July that killed 80 dairy cattle. Officials pegged the cost of damages of that fire at more than $1 million.
Nearly $150,000 has been committed to the project, with $35,000 coming from Ontario’s farm mutual insurers and $108,000 from Growing Forward 2.
Source: Grimsby Lincoln News