AgMemo Northern Agricultural Region

Using remote cameras to monitor water

A remote camera mounted on a star picket facing a water trough
A remote camera facing a water trough

On properties where sheep access water using troughs, checking the troughs during summer – autumn can be a time-consuming process.

There is also a cost associated with fuel, wear and tear on vehicles and labour used in checking troughs not being available for other farm improvement tasks.

The labour cost is often the most significant if it means other things can be missed on farm and staff can’t go away from the farm for more than a couple of days at a time.

Remote monitoring cameras

Where sheep are being run over multiple properties which are a significant distance from the home base, remote monitoring cameras on water troughs are a handy tool.

Using the mobile phone network, remote cameras allow the user to remotely monitor a number of troughs using an app on their device by logging in with a secure username and password.

The cameras can be set to take regular photos on a schedule.

If mobile reception is not available then a satellite phone connection is possible.

Remote cameras with a solar panel and aerial can be purchased for around $1500 each.

They are portable and can be easily shifted around when a mob is moved to another paddock.

The economics

DAFWA have had a benefit-cost analysis done on a sheep enterprise near Eneabba.

Over a ten year period, a system comprising 15 remote cameras cost $22,500 but saved the farmer $21,400 every year in labour and vehicle costs.

This saving was the result of not having to do a 300 – 400km round trip every three days during summer.

The benefit-cost ratio for the cameras was 5.3, so for every dollar invested in remote cameras, there was a saving of $5.30.

The payback period for the investment is 2 years.

One of the factors determining the profitability of the investment is the distance travelled.

There is a break even in the investment (benefit-cost ratio of 1) when 5km is travelled.

So investment in remote cameras can still be profitable where distances of 5km or more are travelled when inspecting troughs.

A key benefit of the remote cameras which is not captured by the economic analysis is the ‘peace of mind’ when away from the farm and better time management when home on the farm.

Further information

New on – farm technology to improve labour efficiency is a focus in the Sheep Industry Business Innovation (SIBI) project.

We will be producing a series of case studies on specific tools to improve labour efficiency.

A short video on the remote cameras is available on the DAFWA Youtube channel.

The economic analysis and feature article on the case study is available on the SIBI new on-farm technology webpage.

For more information contact John Paul Collins, Research Officer, Katanning on +61 (0)8 9821 3249.