Fishing for profits: Colombian shrimp farmers catch on to IoT

Fishing for profits: Colombian shrimp farmers catch on to IoT

Fishing for profits - shrimp farmers in Colombia have caught on to IoT

At Columbian shrimp production company Oceanos, IoT is helping to tackle theft and ensure that shellfish grow to a bigger size, faster. 

As seafood production goes, the farming of shrimp now represents one of the most lucrative markets in Latin America. Consumer demand for these highly nutritious shellfish is reflected in healthy export figures, with the two largest exporters of shrimps, Ecuador and India, seeing shipment increases of 8 percent and 11 percent respectively in the first half of 2016.

While growing demand is good news for farmers, the perishable nature of shrimp means that profits are often hit by unfavorable weather conditions or suboptimal storage, leading to wasted stock. Such is the value of shrimp that farmers must also contend with the growing problem of theft.

At a shrimp farm 20 minutes away from Cartagena City on the Caribbean coast of Columbia, shrimp producer Oceanos has, in the past, experienced the problem of theft first-hand, according to Edgar Salas, CEO at IoT connectivity provider Azlogica: “At night, after producing and nurturing the shrimp, the harvest was low, and they discovered that there was a group of people that were stealing the shrimp,” he tells Internet of Business.

A tailor-made solution

Oceanus enlisted the services of Azlogica to develop a tailored, IoT-based system for monitoring the Oceanus shrimp pools and reducing the risk of theft. In order to ensure an optimal production environment, there are a number of metrics and factors to monitor – some are internal to Oceanos’ shrimp pools, others are external, such as the weather.

Within the shrimp pool, for example, the measurable metrics vary from pH levels, to temperature and salinity, while from a weather perspective, humidity, wind levels and precipitation all need to be taken into account.

Azlogica installed sensors and infrared cameras around the site. To manage and analyze the data these generated, Azlogica chose Dell Edge Gateways for its back-end hardware infrastructure, and, on desktops and servers, it runs the Ubuntu Core operating system, developed by open source software provider Ubuntu specifically for IoT devices.

The Dell Edge Gateways transfer the data to Azlogica’s cloud servers for aggregation and analysis. This information is able to trigger alarms remotely, when sensors detect a variation which could put the shrimp production at risk. For example, if pH levels increase beyond a set threshold, the application of fertilizer to the water can be adjusted accordingly. Likewise, sensors and infrared cameras detect the movement of gates and can trigger an alarm in a potential theft situation. Historically, theft has been Oceanos’ biggest source of loss.

Credit: Ubuntu

“So many of the challenges we had to overcome concerned the physical geography [of the shrimp farm],” Salas says. To access the facility, you have to take a boat across the Canal Del Dique, which connects one part of Magdalena River with the Atlantic Ocean, where the alarms were to be fitted. This meant greater emphasis was placed on choosing not only the right team for the job but also the appropriate hardware for the watery conditions.

Read more: IoT in agriculture — sowing seeds of innovation

Oceanos ‘seas’ fast ROI

With the system in place, results were immediate, according to Salas. He claims that Azlogica promised the firm a ten-fold return on investment (ROI) and a payback period of six months at most. In part, the return will come from an immediate reduction in theft, which Salas describes as “not 100 percent, but 98 percent efficient”, and a supposed 36 percent reduction in shrimp wastage.

Salas says that production is actually up by 28 percent, due to the sensors checking water quality, which encourages fast growth of shrimp to bigger sizes and weights.

While the project described is limited to one part of Colombia, Salas confirms that Azlogica is hoping to expand its tailored offerings throughout both Latin America and North America, with negotiations already underway.

Read more: Discovery Ag and NNNCo create rural IoT network for Australia’s farmers