Farm to Fork Tracking Project
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Private Sector Funded
Region : North America
National GDP Per Capita (USD) : 62,517 (IMF, 2018)
City Population: 9,666
Year Implemented : 2017
National Gini Index : 41.5 (World Bank, 2016)
Tags : ECONOMY AGRICULTURE IOT BLOCKCHAIN
Technologies Utilized : Blockchain, IoT sensors tags for: GPS, temperature, and humidity
Funding Source : Private Sector
Project Cost : NA
Project Savings : NA
Planned Project Duration : One harvest season with plans to expand to future pilots
KPIs : Number of sensors deployed, whether authentication was successfully carried out, datasets analyzed
Project Context and Overview
Independence is a small town of around 9,000 citizens located within the administrative district of Polk County in the state of Oregon. Oregon is home to the Nike Inc. headquarters and four campuses of Intel Corporation, the state’s largest, single employer. However, as is the case in many regions throughout the world, much of this economic growth is concentrated in urban areas, leaving an opportunity gap between city residents and those of more rural areas like Independence.
With this opportunity gap in mind, the City of Independence Hub for Innovation Strategic Plan was established with an aim to take stock of its key assets and maximize utility. With agriculture being a vital industry to the city, with surrounding Polk County producing $162,000,000 annually, Smart Agriculture and Smart Rural Community initiatives are central components of the plan.
The city has long been forward-thinking in terms of technology, as demonstrated by a 2005 investment in 100 Mbps broadband infrastructure, an asset which many, larger cities would have to wait several more years for telecom companies to develop. Having demonstrated a commitment to such projects, the city has become an attractive destination for companies to pilot new solutions.
Two fast-developing technologies that are already having an impact on agriculture are IoT and blockchain. As such, Independence has developed an interest in them, and decided on piloting a project that will help track the movement of goods in a supply chain. In this project, Independence worked on the tracking of hops. Increasingly vast and complex supply chains in agriculture have led to highly-publicized outbreaks of listeria, salmonella, E. coli, insecticide, and others. Inability to prevent and accurately track the source of the outbreaks are not only damaging to public safety and the product’s market but also have the potential to create substantial loss of product that may otherwise be avoided.
Project Planning and Implementation
The City of Independence established a partnership with Intel to pre-pilot a program which incorporates blockchain and IoT. This pre-pilot elected to track the supply chain for hops, a notoriously sensitive flower primarily used to impart flavor and aromatics in beer production. “Wet hops”, or hops which have not been dried in the field, must be transported fresh to the brewery within a 12 hour window and in such a way that their oils do not heat up to the point of ruining the batch. In addition to Intel, the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the agricultural packing company, Curry & Co., also partnered on the pilot.
Tracking must go down to the granular, or smallest level possible. As such, the pre-pilot tracked hops from the harvest fields all the way to its destination for beer processing. IoT sensors, manufactured by Honeywell, were placed in totes, or the bins used to collect the produce, as well as the shipping containers (See figure 1). These sensors monitor the time spent awaiting transport and shipment as well as environmental conditions which include product temperature, ambient temperature, humidity, and location. The sensors contain re-usable and recyclable components to maximize cost efficiency.
During delivery, the sensors alert in real time whether temperatures fall below or exceed specified parameters or whether the product deviates from its usual route. After shipment, data is aggregated and analyzed. Blockchain ensures that data can be traced and verified along each step of the process, and is kept secure from tampering and theft.
The pre-pilot was deemed successful enough to proceed with a larger pilot. The initiative deployed _____ sensors and the authentication process was carried out effectively. Data sets are currently being analyzed for future improvements to the supply chain process.
The next, larger pilot will track berries and include additional sensor components to measure shock, light exposure, and more. This article will be updated to in order to include output from the berry pilot as well as further outputs and expansions from the hops pre-pilot.
from the berry pilot as well as further outputs and expansions from the hops pre-pilot.
Recommendations for Transfer
Agricultural regions which feel that they could benefit from such tracking would have incentive to implement such a project. The cooperation of all stakeholders along the supply chain is necessary, particularly logistics companies and vendors at the endpoint. Therefore, city leaders or companies attempting to implement such a solution should strongly educate stakeholders on the benefits of such a system not only to the consumer but also to their business. A city which should have a healthy working relationship with some local companies as well as the legislative environment to make such initiatives feasible. Finally, as the IoT operated over a cellular network, the existing infrastructure for this must be in place in all of the areas covered by the project. However, as the data loads for this sort of IoT tech are not particularly large, 3G is likely adequate.
Beyond safety and freshness for food products, this project could have applications for Protected Designation of Origin in cities and regions whose agricultural exports enjoy such designation which can be critical to their success. Markets and possibly even consumers will be able to track and verify the authenticity of its origin at its endpoint, ensuring that no counterfeits are passed off as authentic. Furthermore, products that may have cheaper, lesser-quality substitutes often passed off as authentic could benefit from this, and the region which produces them would thereby benefit economically.
Figures and Images