IoT Grants Program projects live across regional WA

A weather station on site at a farm overlooking The Porongorups
A weather station on site at an IoT Grants Program recipient’s farm overlooking The Porongorups

Eleven Internet of Things (IoT) Program projects are now live across the state.

The 11 projects are a part of a group of 15 awarded funding under the WA DecisionAg IoT Grants Program, run by DPIRD’s eConnected Grainbelt Project.

The State Government invested $582,800 towards the program with funding shared between the recipients.

The program is designed to demonstrate on-farm connectivity solutions that support remote digital farm monitoring with IoT sensors and devices used for farm monitoring – even in areas without farm-wide access to network coverage.

The grant recipients, which include eight grower groups and five agricultural colleges, have integrated a range of connectivity, IoT and dashboard equipment into their operations.

The projects are run by the Corrigin Farm Improvement Group, Edmund Rice College, Esperance Farm Training Centre – Esperance Senior High School, Kiara College, Lakes Information & Farming Technology, Merredin and Districts Farm Improvement Group, Mingenew Irwin Group, Moora Miling Pasture Improvement Group, Stirlings to Coast Farmers, South East Premium Wheat Growers Association, WA Colleges of Agriculture – Cunderdin and Morawa, and the Yuna Farm Improvement Group.

The on-farm connectivity network solutions on host-farms include both low and high bandwidth technologies with Low Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN), using the LoRaWAN and SigFox communication protocols, mesh networks, 3G/4G mobile network and on-farm Wi-Fi networks. 

They are being demonstrated across small and large farms, across neighbouring properties, on flat and undulating land and on properties located at significant distances from the home farm.

A number of IoT devices are operating on these connectivity networks and the data is analysed and displayed on supplier or aggregated dashboards, which can be read from a laptop, tablet, in the home office or out in the paddock.

The groups are investigating the use of various IoT sensors and devices, such as soil moisture, tank level sensors for water, spray and diesel tanks, weather stations, rain gauges, water flow meters, frost sensors, electric fence monitors, and security cameras.

The eConnected team has received valuable feedback from participants in the program:

“There are many different methods/systems for whole farm connectivity. Be clear about what you want to achieve on your farm. This will ensure you get the correct system to match your farm and needs.”

“No two locations are the same, even if all your sensors are on tanks, as no two tanks are the same. It may be more difficult than you think to come up with a transferrable system and you need to be adaptable to each location and farm.”

“You need to carefully choose a service provider who you can form a working relationship with and help with the learning journey.”

Visitors at the recent Perth GRDC Grains Research Updates and Wagin Woolorama events saw live feeds of several of the groups’ individual display dashboards, which were hooked up to a big screen at both exhibits.

The eConnected team discussed aspects of the IoT dashboards on display from Kiara College and WA College of Agriculture – Cunderdin. Representatives from both agricultural schools dropped by the Woolorama exhibit to chat with visitors, who were supportive of the project.

Three people stand in front of a agricultural show stand looking at a brochure
(Left to right) eConnected’s Alison Lacey, Kiara College teacher Tim Grubba and eConnected’s Brendan Nicholas discuss the college’s IoT project.

There are positive stories coming out of the demonstrations, specifically in the areas of animal welfare, cost saving and weather tracking, with many finding the applications have made a difference to their businesses’ efficiency and productivity.

The eConnected Grainbelt team has asked the groups to capture the learnings for future applications, installations and progressions.

For specific details of each of the live grants and more information about the technology they are using visit the IoT Update webpage.

For more information about the department’s digital and ag-tech investments and programs visit the eConnected Web Portal.

IoT grants at work

The Moora Miling Pasture Improvement Group (MMPIG) project, a joint initiative with the Moore Catchment Council, reported an unanticipated benefit from installing a water tank level and soil moisture IoT sensors. 

During harvest last year, a group member was notified via his smart phone that one of the sensors showed a stock water tank had run dry less than 12 hours after it had been physically checked. MMPIG is running a LoRaWAN on-farm connectivity network and MoteNet data platform.

Animal Welfare can also be improved with IoT remote monitoring, as in the case of the WA College of Agriculture – Cunderdin project.

The College has installed IoT heat sensors in the piggery that indicate when the temperatures are getting too hot for the welfare of the pigs.

In mid-November college staff were alerted to a temperature spike from their data platform and on investigation found the airconditioning in the shed had failed, which was promptly repaired.

The college is running a LoRaWAN on-farm connectivity network and Stratus Imaging Aghub data platform.

A women points to a screen showing a number of graphs and tabs
Leanne Grant-Williams of WA College of Agriculture – Cunderdin, points out the ‘smiley face' which she added to the school’s IoT dashboard that easily lets students know when the conditions are right for spraying.

The benefits of installing more weather stations across properties is being evaluated in a collaborative South East Premium Wheat Growers Association (SEPWA) project.

The IoT weather stations have already shown there can be a wide variation in rainfall during the season, recording a 60 millimetre difference within 15 kilometres. 

The collection of rainfall data enables better management of cropping inputs, as input rates are varied to the conditions to produce more profitable outcomes.

SEPWA is using Wi-Fi mesh to deliver on-farm connectivity for the IoT devices and an Origo FarmHub data platform.

DPIRD weather website

The department’s online weather pages recently underwent further improvements to make them easier to navigate.

They also now include live radar imagery from the three radars, upgraded to Doppler capability, at Albany, Geraldton and Esperance.

For more information contact Kari-Lee Falconer, manager eConnected Grainbelt WA, Moora and Wongan Hills, +61 (0)8 9651 0537.