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Automated water tank monitoring is transforming Australia’s vast cattle stations.
The remote monitoring of water sources, water supplies and water tank levels on remote Australian farms significantly reduces cattle loses and the need to manually inspect every water tank. Saving cattles’ lives, farmers’ time and ultimately costs.
Australia is a big, sparsely populated country. In fact, Australia covers nearly 8 million km2. Almost the same size as the main part of the USA. But has just 24 million people living there compared to 325 million in the USA. Which means, if you live away from the major cities, you can be really isolated.
No big deal if you like peace and quiet. However, for farmers these vast areas of land create real challenges in ensuring livestock are fed and especially watered.
40% of Australia is used to raise livestock. (NFF, 2017) Animals can roam and graze freely in their natural environment, living better happier lives rather than being intensely factory farmed. Which is great for producing exceptionally high quality, high value cattle or sheep. The downside is that monitoring and tracking livestock over such vast areas is time consuming and often costly.
For Australia’s 85,000 farms to prosper, it is vital that there is enough drinking water available for their animals. It only takes a few days for a dried up water supply to cause the death or sickness of a herd. Resulting not only in a financial loss for the farmer but also unnecessary distress, suffering or even death for the animals. When you consider that these prize cattle can be marketed for AUS $1000 each, the impact of losing even a small herd of 20 is a significant and upsetting.
Now all Australian farms have water tanks and water troughs scattered around their land. However, for the really large fams, this can mean having hundreds of water tanks. Many of which can be miles away from each other. And the only way to make sure there is enough drinking water available is to ride, drive or even fly to each one. That’s going to make even the hardest outback farmer’s buttocks saddle-sore.
You want to see an Australian farmer drop his cold beer after a long day travelling all over their remote ranch, then tell them this. ‘With an automated water tank monitoring system, the need to visit each water tank to check the water level is no longer necessary.’
Remotely monitoring water tank levels on a daily basis allows farmers to see their water resources everywhere. For automated water supplies, such as solar powered or windmill powered systems that draw water from boreholes, being alerted to a fault early removes the need to constantly visit every location. Meaning a problem can be rectified before it becomes critical and causes distress or even the death of a herd.
Easy access to and visibility of a water supply data will transform farmers’ futures. It will eliminate more serious mechanical breakdowns, reduce logistics costs and make financial planning more predictable. Protecting farmers’ investments and ensuring everything runs more efficiently than before.
Unidata is an Australian company that gives farmers total visibility of water levels in tanks and troughs at all times. Even in the remotest locations. It has developed a range of solar-powered remote logging and telemetry systems whose sensors make it easy to monitor water tanks anywhere.
It works very simply. When the water in a tank reaches a certain level, an alarm will be triggered and sent via email, text or online portal to the farmer. Given the importance of problems with water supplies for livestock, if the first alarm is not acknowledged within a preset time other people are alerted. Ensuring that any issue is dealt with quickly before it causes animals distress.
Moving from routine water tank inspections to only necessary visits has a huge economic impact. Automated tank monitoring means there is less need to employ people to do routine visits to hundreds of sites on a pastoral property to look for defects. On larger estates, where helicopters or even planes are used to visit tanks, the savings from not using these expensive forms of transportation are immense. Instead, with an automated tank monitoring system, the defects literally come to the farmer, so to speak. Saving time, money and resources no matter where a water tank is located. Sitting in front of a computer might not be as exciting as a helicopter visit, but it sure beats losing money on wasted inspection visits.
Unidata’s automated water tank monitoring system is literally a life-saver for the Australian farmer. However, it wouldn’t be available to every farmer without easy affordable access to satellite connectivity to send and receive the data. In the past, Unidata only used traditional satellite connectivity, which is expensive and power hungry. Hiberband changes all that by being easy to access anywhere and highly affordable. Up to 20x cheaper than traditional satellite connectivity.
Whatsmore, the modems that monitor the water tanks have up to a 10-year battery life and are easy to install and maintain. They really are plug in and forget technology.
Which is great, as the last thing a farmer wants is to have to find is a spare battery in the middle of a 10,000 km2 farm surrounded by 1,000s of thirsty cattle.
Unidata’s headquarters are located in Australia. Since the 1970s, it has specialized in the design, manufacturing, supply, and support of products and solutions for environmental monitoring and industrial measurement. Unidata is also a subsidiary company of the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) the peak government body for water, atmosphere and climate in New Zealand.
Environment Guide. (2018). Agriculture. Consulted on 15 January 2019 from http://www.environmentguide.org.nz/activities/agriculture/
National Farmers Federation. (2017). Food, Fibre & Forestry Facts. Consulted on 15 January 2019 from https://www.nff.org.au/farm-facts.html
National Farmers Federation. (2017). Major Commodities Beef Cattle. Consulted on 15 January 2019 from https://www.nff.org.au/commodities-beef-cattle.html