If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.H. James Harrington
On-farm monitoring has become much easier and more affordable than ever before! Modern technologies like Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) are ideal for communicating with multiple monitoring nodes across the farm. If only monitoring a few parameters, cellular options may be the best solution. There are many great options that are worth exploring.
What Do I Need?
LoRaWAN is the most common open standard LPWAN protocol that is used for connecting Internet of Things (IoT) devices. It’s simple, economical, and universal. Having a common standard ensures that any LoRaWAN device can communicate over the same network. No more being stuck with a single manufacturer or provider. All that is needed is a LoRaWAN gateway, a small device that wirelessly communicates with remote monitoring nodes and relays the data to the cloud either by internet or cellular (or internet with cellular backup). To cover a small area like a few-acre orchard or vineyard, an indoor gateway will normally suffice. For larger farms – or to link-up multiple farms, an outdoor gateway is recommended (range of >10km line of site).
What Can I Monitor?
Almost anything! Monitoring nodes can easily be installed anywhere that has network coverage. Nodes are small, low power, and inexpensive. Such low power consumption allows a single battery to last 8-10 years. Instead of having one weather station to represent the entire farm, why not install multiple temperature, relative humidity, and leaf wetness sensors to monitor individual areas for disease pressure. Or monitor temperature at different heights to be alerted of frost or inversion. Soil moisture can be monitored within each irrigation zone. You can monitor any sort of infrastructure, pumps, pipelines, water levels to be assured that systems are operating as they should. Even GPS asset tracking can be used to track equipment, product, or livestock. There are literally thousands of compatible nodes and sensors that are widely available.
How Much Will It Cost?
A configured LoRaWAN gateway is the main requirement to get started. An indoor gateway ranges in price from $350-$500. A weatherproof outdoor gateway ranges from $1,000-$1,500. Individual monitoring nodes vary in price. An basic temperature or temperature/relative humidity node starts at around $60. Soil moisture monitoring will depend on the sensors. Support, network management, data flow, dashboards, reports, and alerts normally costs a few dollars per device per month.
Services Provided by Peak HydroMet
- Network planning and design
- Device testing, evaluation, and calibration
- On-site set up, repair, maintenance
- Backend data handling
- Data hosting, including dashboards (pre-configured or do-it-yourself), reports, and alerts