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PLF delivers a non-proprietary network of sensors and actuators, using LoRaWAN infrastructure, providing accurate, timely measurements of: water flow (volume and rate), water level, soil moisture and temperature over multiple layers, on-farm weather station, all onto a single integrated online platform. We have recently released a smart pest trap that autonomously calculates the population density of a targeted species in a particular area and provides the information to an app that is accessible on any mobile device.
Due to the varying nature of farming from geography, topography and size, to the nature of operations ie. livestock (cattle, sheep, goats etc.), irrigated cropping, dry land cropping, as well as the farmers' willingness to engage in innovation, there can be no fixed pricing model. Once the farmer's needs have been identified, the network can be planned and costed. Gateways range from $2,000 with mains power, to $6,500 with a solar package. Most sensors with their respective loggers are less than $1,000 and the weather stations under $3,000. Once the network is established the farmer pays a monthly subscription, which again varies, but is generally between $250 and $350. The cost of access to the platform, which is set up to suit the specific wants of the individual farmer, as well as the mobile connection to the server, is included in the subscription.
PLF, or our contractor do the initial installations, often with the farmer's assistance. Sensors are pre-configured to the gateway, and connectivity is tested to the platform prior to installation. This can be online within an hour of installation. Water level sensors are generally installed on tanks, while water flow meters (with their pulse sensors) are connected into a water line typically downstream from a pump. Weather stations can be deployed anywhere it can get a 3G/4G connection, in some cases on a farm airstrip, which provides a dual purpose.
Most maintenance, if/when required can be undertaken by the farmer (usually just changing batteries). Any connectivity issues are dealt with by PLF or its technology partner usually via remote connection. We also provide phone support during normal working hours.
Gateways can either use mains power, or a solar cell and battery. Virtually all the sensor devices are battery powered, using normal 'AA' of 'C' batteries can can be replaced. Under normal use the batteries should last over 2 years.
We tend to use LoRaWAN on farm and 3G/4G back to the server. However, satellite is also an option.
"Customer owns all data and has complete autonomy to choose if/when/how to provide access to data to third parties"
"We maintain a secure cloud environment where data is curated, quality controlled and stored, so it can be re-purposed for a positive benefit."
This case study demonstrates the value of having accurate monitoring of key resources, especially where they may not be normally visible/identifiable.
Seeing what can’t be seen
An existing client, a beef cattle producer, wanted to agist cattle on some unusable cropping land. Before doing so, he had us install water flow meters on two solar bores. We were able to rapidly identify that there were some significant leaks and the property owner was losing over 150,000 litres of water per week. The owner was unaware of the situation as the breaks weren’t openly visible. The line breaks were quickly identified and repaired. Once the water level sensors were installed on two downstream tanks, the farmer was able to confirm that the tanks were keeping the troughs topped up and that the bores through the daylight hours were able to keep the tanks topped up. As a result, he was able to reduce the need to travel to the site to inspect the tanks and troughs several times a week (a four hour exercise), to once every couple of weeks, resulting in considerable time and cost saving.
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