Helping Farmers through the drought with IoT

Outcomex has recently installed Farmdeck, an in-house IoT solution for agriculture, at Red Hill Farm in Barraba, New South Wales. Farmdeck has allowed Red Hill to efficiently manage their water supply, whilst streamlining daily tasks such as the morning water check. The solution monitors water supply levels and rainfall, as well as alerting the farm to any issues that may arise. This has allowed them to focus on other tasks and make educated decisions about what to do next.

Client

Red Hill Farm is located in Barraba, a town 90 kilometres north of Tamworth, NSW, a region deeply affected by the drought after two years without rain (from 2017 to 2019).

Red Hill Farm owner, Luke Bowman and his family have been in the region for over 100 years and are currently third-generation farmers. Luke is now preparing to hand on his 2,400-hectare farm to his three sons. He sees technology as the best way to optimise the farm and their practices before passing it on to the next generation. One of the challenges they hoped to address with technology was water monitoring.

Opportunity

Red Hill Farm counts 700 breeding cows, which can each consume up to 200L/day of water. To sustain the cows, the farm has 8 water tanks, and up to 50 active troughs at any given time. To ensure utilised paddocks have enough water and there are no leaks, a daily water run is required. This task is estimated to take roughly two hours out of their morning. Luke felt that the way he and his family had been operating was inefficient and could be improved with technology.

Solution

Solving the Red Hill water monitoring challenge, Outcomex implemented our end-to-end IoT solution, Farmdeck. Utilising LoRa technology, the solution is composed of sensors installed in the various water tanks and troughs as well as rain gauges. These sensors are connected to a Cisco industrial gateway while the data collected is hosted in the cloud. The data is then accessible via Farmdeck’s user-friendly app on any device and from anywhere. This solution has automated one of the instrumental and highly time-consuming daily tasks.

When asked about how Farmdeck has helped the day-to-day running of Red Hill, Luke stated: “In the morning I can just get up, check the app, check all my tanks and be satisfied that everything is running well and that just gives us peace of mind, it takes out that hour and a half to 2 hours of doing a water run every day.”

Furthermore, through its alerting feature, Farmdeck was able to help Luke when one of his troughs overflowed. When the water volume of a tank or trough goes down quicker than normal, the app sends an alert. In this case, the sensor placed in the tank alimenting the overflowing trough detected the fast decrease in water volume and sent an alert to Luke.
The quick alert meant they were able to fix the problem before it became a larger issue. This not only allowed them to save time, and conserve water, but it also meant they didn’t have to spend days relocating livestock.

Farmdeck’s technology runs on a combination of Cisco IoT and Enterprise Networking products, third party sensors, as well as Farmdeck, our in-house analytics platform that has been developed specifically for agriculture.

The solution consists of;

  • Cisco Solution for LoRaWAN
  • Third-party sensors
  • Outcomex ‘Farmdeck’ online platform.

Impact

The new access to data and analytics has enabled Red Hill to proactively address their challenges, such as water conservation.

It is cases like the overflowing trough which show how immensely important these technological advances are, especially considering the ongoing drought conditions Australian farmers are facing. By Farmdeck alerting farmers to any changes or emergencies related to their water supply, as well as providing access to data and analytics, Outcomex has enabled Red Hill to become more proactive and efficient in their overall farm management.

See how Farmdeck implemented similar technology at Llanelli Farm in Bathurst, NSW