The government is backing a startup that has developed software to monitor and control water infrastructure, by co-investing almost $1 million to enable on-farm trials around New Zealand.
Dairy Farm Water Management is commencing a trial of its newly developed water management software, Water to Milk, on 15 farms across Taranaki, Canterbury and Otago, with assistance from the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFF Futures) fund.
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the government is continuing its work with farmers to lift sustainability through this potential one-stop shop, hi-tech solution to support sustainable water management on dairy farms.
“The project’s technology partner, IoT Ventures, has developed the prototype technology – now we need to demonstrate how it works in real farmers’ hands.
“Improving water use efficiency, helping farmers save time, and reducing the impacts of land use can only be good for our environment, while leading to improved productivity on farms.
Water to Milk uses the LoRaWAN communication protocol, and delivers a fully integrated system of sensor hardware, software and analytics.
LoRaWAN is a Low Power Wide Area networking protocol designed to wirelessly connect battery operated “things” to the internet in regional, national or global networks.
“LoRaWAN provides long range access and lower power use, so farmers working in more remote areas with no cellphone coverage or patchy internet are able to use it,” O’Connor said.
He said the solution Dairy Farm Water Management has developed with IoT Ventures can monitor and control different parts of water infrastructure.
“This can include control of sprinkler irrigators and pumps, and monitoring of dams, tanks, soil moisture, and water flow. The ‘Run Off’ module being delivered this year as part of the project will help with the storage, management, and impact of effluent.
“This technology can help identify and locate leaks to save water on farm and reduce the time it takes to identify and resolve an issue. We’re also looking to help automate external reporting of the measurements it’s taking, and submit real-time reports to a farmer’s local regional council and other stakeholders.
“Farmers see themselves as stewards of the land and are keen for technology that helps them demonstrate this. This is a goal of our Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures programme,” O’Connor said.