LX have created a range of IoT products that can be used in numerous AgTech applications, drawing on their deep experience in product development services for connected devices. The products, which include connected sensors, trackers and accessories, were recently chosen from a competitive tender process for inclusion at the DATA Farm project at Longerenong Agricultural College in Horsham, Victoria. DATA is an acronym for Demonstration of Agricultural Technology Applications, and the aim of this project is to provide a best in class platform for Smart Farming in Australia.
Data Farm Overview
The DATA Farm project commenced in July 2019, with the goal to be fully functional by the end of 2020. This initiative is part of a smart farming partnership where The Wimmera – Southern Mallee Regional Partnership joined with a range of leading organisations including the Wimmera Development Association, Longerenong College, Skillinvest Ltd, Birchip Cropping Group and Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water to develop the business case for the DATA Farm.
The DATA Farm is a component of a larger project known as AgTIDE (Ag Technology, Innovation, Development & Extension) and the project was funded by a grant from the Victorian State Government. The DATA Farm component involves a fully-enabled smart farm, covering around 1,070 hectares, at Longerenong College, or ‘Longy’ as it’s affectionately known.
Using best in class smart farming technologies and IoT products, the data collected on the farm will be aggregated and displayed across dashboards within a ‘spaceship command style’ learning environment.
The vision is that the farm will showcase and educate on the application of smart farming systems in a real-life operating environment. Students, Agronomists, researchers, growers and both local and international visitors will be able to learn more about how data from connected IoT systems can be used to inform and lead key operational decisions, leading to efficiencies across process, time and resource use. For students it is the ideal learning environment and for growers; a platform for practical based training in new technologies designed to enhance their business.
The DATA Farm in Numbers
Across the Farm, more than 30,000 data points will be collected per day as well as imagery from a number of cameras. The data will be displayed and analysed on dashboards developed by LX. The data from these sensors will also support harvest data and remote crop and paddock data from satellites, drones and a vehicle-mounted topsoil mapper.
One of the exciting outcomes of the DATA farm being at Longerenong Agricultural College will be the introduction of digital agriculture content into all of their courses so that students can take this knowledge into their future careers in the industry or back to their family farms.
LX IoT Products in Smart Farming
The LX product ecosystem is underpinned by the Blue Node, a static sensing node. It works on a 1:1 or 1:2 basis with sensors for measuring multiple different data streams and has been configured to work with versions of sensors you already know, like the Davis Weather Station. LX’s IoT Sensors and trackers were not specifically designed for Smart Farming and the range of applications is potentially limitless. However, when the DATA Farm project was announced, it was obvious that there were clear correlations between the existing functionality of the Blue Node and the requirements of the DATA Farm project.
The beauty of the LX IoT product range is that, as a connected ecosystem, it is designed to work both as a single blue node and sensor collecting one form of data and also through the application of large numbers of nodes and sensors, aggregating various data streams into one intuitive user interface.
With the ability to connect a Blue Node to existing sensors for measuring everything from leaf wetness to soil moisture to a complete weather station, LX products could be deployed across a smart farm to collect thousands of key data points at a frequency configured to the needs of the user.
The Node itself is hard wearing and it’s IP67 water and dust rating makes it ideal for use in rural areas. Added to this its simple ‘plug and play’ installation design and easy to use dashboards for data visualisation, and it is easy to see the value the range could bring to a project like the DATA Farm.
Speaking about LX’s application, John Goldsmith, Longerenong College Head of Campus and General Manager said,
“LX were awarded the DATA Farm sensor and platform tender after an extensive selection process. They have illustrated high level ongoing commitment to the project already, ensuring the DATA Farm will be a world class facility servicing the broadacre cropping industry.”
If you’re interested in learning more about the LX products for smart farming, click below to speak to our Sales and Installation Lead, Ben.
IoT connected Farms – A Future View
So what is the future of farming and technology? Taking the DATA Farm project as a basis, in the immediate term we’ll hopefully see the wider adoption of smart farming systems. This technology is about enabling farmers to make decisions using not only their knowledge and the standard sensory input i.e. what they can see, smell, touch, but also with data providing insights into the ‘unseen’.
On a micro level the use of IoT in an agricultural setting, be that cropping, livestock or horticulture, is able to improve efficiencies for the operator. That could be time saved by removing manual checking of levels like tank water or rain gauges, or peace of mind about livestock security.
On a macro level, we see benefits around preservation of resources and protection of local ecosystems. Particularly when operators adopt this technology at scale. Imagine if every farmer was utilising an IoT system to reduce pesticide spray drift and leaching into local natural habitats. The impact that smart farming technologies could have on such a practise would be positive and far reaching.
Added to this, the global conversations around how we efficiently feed a population that is rapidly outstripping current production. Then the question becomes not ‘Why should we adopt smart farming technologies’ but ‘can we afford not to?’