The UNE SMART Farms are a connected landscape which we have created to enable the collection of sensor data to aid production, research and education.
Like other farms, the UNE SMART Farms would love to have efficient and economical data integration and collection from devices and gadgets scattered across our own landscape and beyond. Sensors and infrastructure that can reliably record information, which is then available to farm record keeping software and decision support systems, enable farmers to make objective decisions when running their operation and leads to better production and environmental outcomes. It’s the old saying “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”.
Being an active commercial farming operation, we have multiple enterprises with numerous generations of existing equipment from a number of manufacturers. Plus, we have to integrate devices and equipment designed to be used in a research context. This conundrum led us to develop what we call our SMART Farms Telemetry Hub (SFTH). Built from open source and freely available software using open telemetry standards, we feel it gives us the greatest opportunity to collect data from the greatest number of devices and store it within the Universities databases and then make it available to our researchers, connect it with the software packages which our farm managers are using and also with our own and external DSTs. To interface with the sensors in the paddock we try to use low-cost development boards, where possible, and engage the services of 3rd party providers who share our view of open data standards and open API’s for scientific grade sensors, data handling and movement. It is a process that is constantly evolving and changing with technology and requires the expertise of many to make it work.
What we recommend is that others maintain openness and work through trials and tribulations and push towards lower cost sensors and telemetry devices that are more straightforward to integrate. A great starting point is The Things Network utilising LoRa telemetry. Introducing students to open standards, such as that, will hopefully mean that logging sensors in the cloud becomes second nature and by the time they are running their own farms many of the barriers we are dealing with now will be well and truly broken down.
Data from our Farms and other University Farms across Australia is available for educational purposes via the Smart Farm Learning Hub
View the pasture estimates across our farms through our interactive pasture app available here.
For information on how to access data or to learn more please contact us.