Are RFID Tags on the Ropes?

Posted by Ken Lynch on Thu, Oct 21, 2010 @ 01:53 PM

RFID Used to Improve Mussel Cultivation

Mussel RopesWithout a crystal ball, cultivating mussels is like a shell game (pun intended) where each one looks like the other and in order to win you have to remember which one was where at which time. Suffice it to say, that’s why the house (or the guy on the street) usually wins. Mussel cultivators need to better their odds because this is their livelihood, not a game.

In order to process mussels for the best sale and retail consumption, you would need to know how long each batch of mussels has been on each rope. This becomes trickier when the ropes move or get lost in a storm.

Mussel company Concepción Suárez Fernández, worked with the University of Vigo in Galicia, Spain, to devise a way to use passive RFID tags to track the ropes. The cultivation begins with the seeding of mussels on to the ropes which hang on a platform in the water. There they mature until harvest time. But how do the cultivators know when it’s harvest time when platforms can be more than 1,000 square feet, hundreds of ropes have been hung at different times, and oh yeah, like the shell game, they all look the same?

"We need a way to distinguish them. If you forget some of the ropes, the mussels can grow too big and fall to the sea floor." That was the sentiment of Jorge Nuñez, an owner of Concepción Suárez Fernández, which led to the introduction of RFID to Aquaculture.

Each rope is fitted with an RFID tag that is UHF and Gen2 compliant. The company is using tags from Premo Group, Confidex and Intermec Technologies that were developed to withstand the extreme conditions that the sea can bring like very cold temperatures, lots of moisture and rough motion due to storms.

A software program tracks all of the information about the mussels on that rope, obtained by the RFID tags. Now, cultivators can know when it’s the best time for mussels to be harvested. Needless to say, the enhanced process can increase revenue because fewer mussels are lost and fewer are harvested at the wrong time. As usual, with an RFID deployment, it would also seem that less time is spent on contingency planning and manually chasing down information.

As a consumer, I’m excited because who wouldn’t want to go to the store knowing they’re always going to get the best batch of mussels? What’s your favorite food whose supply and quality you’d like to see improved with RFID?

[Image credit: Inverlussa Mussel Farm]

Tags: RFID, Agriculture, Food & Beverage

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