In October we headed over to New South Wales to install Waterwatch sensors as part of the Meat and Livestock Australia 2018 digital forum. These sensors monitor a range of water based features from water tanks and troughs to dams and streams at Carwoola Station. Carwoola Station is managed by Carwoola Pastoral Company an MLA stakeholder. It is one of 5 properties managed by Darren Price and has been selected as MLA's research and development test farm.
Darren wanted to adopt new digital technologies to enhance his management systems across his properties. As Carwoola Station is a historic farm dating back to the time of early Australian settlers it seemed like a perfect fit for the project.
The installation of Waterwatch sensors allows Darren's team to remotely manage all water assets on their property and make optimisation decisions from anywhere in the world. It replaces the need for costly, time consuming and menial tasks with new technology. Before Waterwatch, Darren floated an old bottle in troughs and frequently drove out to each one to check water levels. Darren told stakeholders at the flagship MLA event that Waterwatch sensors “save me quite a bit of time in terms of water monitoring and checking”. He went on to say “I now have the confidence in that particular install to save me a lot of time”.
A number of the LS1 water level sensors are being used to monitor stock dams and turkey nests, key infrastructure in the management of water stores for irrigation and feeding stock. These water stores are mostly rainwater fed and are crucial for productivity. Once installed the Carwoola team were able to record and examine information about how their water stores are functioning and how different weather events affect them all via the Waterwatch Live app. They can also detect variation in water level from possible damage or breaches to the structure of the dams. Data is recorded, graphed and monitored to ensure all systems are working to maximum efficiency.
We installed sensors on 6 water tanks across the property, 3 of which are bore filled while the others are rain and tanker filled and require constant measurements to be taken. As tank based problems don't generally require the residents to react as quickly as a flood event might the sensors are set to measure every 90 minutes providing in excess of 15 years battery life. Alarms and notifications were set up to ensure optimum water levels are maintained with tankers called in to replenish resources before they run dry. This installation would prove very helpful and notify the Carwoola team if a tap or hose was leaking or the garden irrigation was left on. Viewing and acting on the data provided on the Waterwatch Live app means that the homestead on the property will not be left without clean drinking water for residents and staff.
Carwoola Station is divided in half by a river. It is vital that animals and workers are able to access both sides of the farm and that any potential flood dangers are predicted as quickly as possible. For this reason, LS1 sensors were installed across the river and alerts set up to notify anybody in danger. In this situation the sensors are set to measurement intervals of 5 minutes providing quicker response times as water levels rise or fall. The wireless sensor is pole mounted to provide a clear view of the river. For added strength and robustness the 40nb galvanised pole mounts were attached to the bridges. This installation has an expected installation life of at least 10 years with a battery replacement required at 3 years. If required this battery replacement time could be extended by switching the measurement interval to 10 minutes or more. As of January 2019 Waterwatch sensors are capable of remote control to adjust measurement intervals. The Carwoola staff can now take data based precautions and lead livestock to higher ground, avoiding potential loss of life.
Installations were also made in water troughs throughout the property to ensure sufficient drinking water for livestock. Although the LS1 has not been used on water troughs in the past, it has been a great learning experience that has proven very successful. Protecting the sensor from animal rubbing and chewing was completed using galvanised box section and sharp edges removed. Part way through this installation it was identified that the sensors could be completely inserted into the box section to hide the entire sensor from animal interaction. In the Carwoola instance this is due to very good Sigfox radio coverage which may not be the case on every farm. Protecting the sensors is not only good for animal welfare but be very important to ensure accurate and consistent measurements. Based on the Carwoola experience we are looking to introduce a more specialised and cost effective trough measurement system in the near future.
Our CEO Jesse was invited back to Canberra late last year to talk at the Red Meat digital forum about the installation. Watch his quick-fire presentation below. You can also find Darren Price’s address to the forum by clicking here.
How do the Carwoola Station sensors work?
Waterwatch LS1 sensors measure water level by using an ultrasonic pulse. Once the measurements are made the sensor transmits the measurements via the Sigfox network installed at the Carwoola site. Sigfox is a global wireless network technology, connecting low powered sensor devices. You can check the Sigfox strength at your property through this link. https://coverage.waterwatch.io/. If you do not have Sigfox coverage but are still interested in Waterwatch products ask us about our cellular product line which includes NB-IoT and CatM.
If you are interested in installing Waterwatch sensors for remote water level management on your property, check out our new online store or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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Over the past 6 years they have made a concerted effort to become a sustainable farm, installing a rooftop solar and battery system, as well as a solar water pump to become independent of the electrical grid.