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Beyond the Bale : September 2017
Imagine being able to monitor your livestock or property boundaries on the far side of your farm, all while sitting in the comfort of your homestead. With modern technology, this is a reality – and AWI aims to make it easier for woolgrowers across Australia to adopt the technology. The digital revolution is a reality. Across the world, the internet has irrevocably transformed the way society, individuals and businesses operate and communicate. How can woolgrowers in Australia take advantage of modern communications technology and the internet to benefit their business? One of the issues facing woolgrowers is the limited internet access in rural and regional areas. While a homestead might be connected to the internet, through ADSL or the new NBN, many woolgrowers are unable to get reception when out in the paddock or in nearby farm-buildings. However, installing ‘Wi-Fi hotspots’ around the farm would provide more widespread internet access which can, for instance, help with online training in the shearing shed. Furthermore, modern wireless technology can help woolgrowers with monitoring-type COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY MAKING FARMING EASIER WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY IS ALREADY PROVEN FAST FACTS • AWI is investigating products and systems to help Australian woolgrowers establish more effective internet and other wireless connections across their properties. • Increased connectivity would (1) provide Wi-Fi hotspots away from the homestead, such as in shearing sheds, and (2) enable woolgrowers to use monitoring equipment, such as remote cameras and sensors. • AWI is seeking expressions of interest from ten woolgrowers who would like to be involved in an AWI trial project to test the feasibility and effectiveness of a potential widespread rollout of cost-effective wireless communications technology. jobs normally done in a ute or on a bike – such as checking mobs of sheep, stock water, pasture, fencing and gates – which can now be done while at the homestead using cameras positioned strategically on the property, thus saving on labour costs. While these new monitoring systems can be deployed without internet connection (so it won’t use up bandwidth), an internet connection would allow woolgrowers to access, for instance, camera footage when outside their property. There are innovative woolgrowers who are already using wireless technology for these sorts of tasks, to help take some of the hard work out of farming and contribute to their enterprise’s bottom line (see below). Purchasing the necessary infrastructure, like antennas and cameras, for a property can be baffling and costly if not done right. So AWI is investigating ways to provide woolgrowers with access to suitable products at a cost- effective price. AWI is running a trial project to determine the feasibility of such a roll-out, and is seeking expressions of interest from woolgrowers who want to be involved. See next page. Jock MacRae who runs 1,000 stud Merinos on ‘Eilan Donan’ at Sutton Grange near Bendigo in Victoria is an example of an innovative woolgrower who has already set up wireless internet connectivity across his property. His experience illustrates that wireless communications technology works, is easy to install, and is providing benefits to his business. “Our motivation to implement the technology was initially for farm security,” Jock said. “We are not living on the property so we are keen to be able to monitor activities when someone enters the property. We have cameras and movement tags installed, so I receive an SMS message on my phone when someone enters the property through a gate, which alerts me to then view the live camera footage from around the farm.” Jock first got involved with the technology when he was getting the NBN installed on his property. “We had a local company over, initially to install the NBN and add repeaters across the farm, but it was then that we realised there were more applications for the technology and so we added the surveillance system. “I’m very excited about even more uses for the technology that we could implement in the future, like monitoring stock, mob based and individual.” Although Jock had the local company help him implement the system, he said that it was an easy to set up. “It was a relatively straight-forward process – just ‘plug and play’ really. The whole network was set up in about a day. One pole was in an exposed location so we concreted that into the ground, but that wasn’t essential for the other poles.” READ MORE OVER THE PAGE Jock MacRae viewing live footage from locations around his property from the comfort of his homestead. PHOTO: Dale Webster/Newspix One of Jock MacRae’s wireless antennas that has been installed on his property. ON FARM 45
In the Shops - September 2017