Oscar Hovde Berntsen, founder and CTO of Nofence, shares the numerous reasons why virtual fencing is big right now in Norway, and soon, all over the world.
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What is virtual fencing? Can you imagine a landscape where all fencing is removed hence is not hurting the wildlife? What is the role of animals in our landscape? How can we manage the landscapes and the commons differently?
Unpacking Virtual Fencing
One of the first visual fencing companies in the world, Nofence, crafted virtual fencing, a program that uses collars and electric poles to keep animals in one place without the need for actual fences. With the use of sound signals, the collared animals are trained to stay in designated farming areas and avoid going over somewhere else. Leaving the area triggers a pulse, which coaxes them to go back to where they should be. While many perceive this process as inhumane, Oscar believes that first, it is manageable for the animals and second, this process is no different from traditional electric fences that many use now.
“It was very obvious that she understood what was to come when she returned. She didn’t want the electric pulses.” – Oscar Hovde Berntsen
Power of Technology
Virtual fencing relies on technology. To start, it utilizes GPS so that farmers can track where their animals are although they’re just on their computers. The collars from Nofence are also attached to sensors that tell what the animals are doing (e.g. grassing, walking around, resting, etc.). These sensors are also connected to a cloud that stores the data for each animal (measures such as pH and temperature). All in all, the tasks that used to require supervision from farmers are greatly reduced, allowing them to have time for other productive things.
“It’s enormous when people talk about the technology as the savior for the agriculture on their farm.” – Oscar Hovde Berntsen
The Success Rate
Virtual fencing is the best choice with the best value. With animal’s movement being trackable, farmers no longer have to spend a ridiculous amount of time looking for their animals that have gone over the fence. This leads to the animal’s safety from predators (e.g. bears, wolves, lynxes, etc.). Oscar also notes that aside from it’s very unlikely that animals escape, the animals are quick to learn their places and they get to avoid the electricals. Presently, Nofence has distributed already around 35,000 collars.
“I have had some stories from the customer saying that, ‘because of NoFence, there was only one lamb that was taken, because they all ran back to the farm, to safety.’” – Oscar Hovde Berntsen
Role of Animals
One of the best benefits of Nofence’s technology for landowners is it can be a tool to regenerate degraded lands. Because the landscapes serving as pasture are reduced significantly, so many lands will be available to use for other purposes. In fact, some customers of Nofence use their product for conservation and managed grazing, which are known to be environmentally friendly, although Nofence works on developing a product that fits managed grazing better.
“I would say that it is more or less beyond doubt that managed grazing has a huge possible impact, but there are some obstacles on how to speed up the transition towards managed grazing.” – Oscar Hovde Berntsen
Other Points Discussed
Koen and Oscar also talked about:
- Technology can speed up our transition to managed grazing;
- Small-scale farming should be profitable;
- The food that we eat should be short-travelled;
- Consumers seem to be paying more attention now to produce that have a positive impact on animal welfare, climate change, health, etc.
To know more about Oscar Hovde Berntsen and Nofence, download and listen to this episode.
- Frank Wooten on how virtual fencing unlocks the potential of carbon positive grazing at scale
- Isabella Tree – Rewilding a 3,500 acre British farm that was never profitable before
Feedback, comments, suggestions? Reach me via Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.
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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.
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