Updated Feb 2021 – More and more farmers in Australia are looking toward Automated Irrigation Systems. There are many reasons for this but one of the main ones being the severe water shortage that the country is going through. Irrigation in Australia is a vital part of farming and to adapt to issues of climate change and extreme water shortage, farmers are looking for continued ways to not only save water but also save money.
IOT ( the internet of things) has drastically changed the way automated irrigation works.
What use to be irrigation that was set up with a simple timer has now evolved into software run systems that can be switched on and off from a mobile device and can monitor everything from pump flow to soil moisture content.
AT FMS we have worked with a variety of different farmers on the Darling downs region near Toowoomba in Queensland to develop such a system that saves water, time and money whist still maximising plant growth and crop yield. We developed something that is simple to use but can accomplish complicated tasks. Like setting your irrigation to start or stop once the soil moisture content reaches a certain level. On top of that we have designed it to be adaptable to any existing irrigation setup. That’s right – you don’t need to change anything – FMS literally piggy backs on top of what you already have.
Weatherproof sensors are installed at certain areas of your irrigation system. Usually these are set up on pumps, water pipes, dams or even a soil moisture monitor. These sensors relay information back to a field device known as the FMS Multi Pro. This field device then transfers information back to something called the FMS Base which is in your house or shed and is connected to the internet. Then this information is uploaded to the cloud and from here fed into FMS control (this is the software used to control and monitor everything).
Using FMS control you are now able to remotely monitor everything that is happening on your farm … BUT … from here you can also relay information or tasks back to your Irrigation equipment. Let’s say you want to turn off a pump – you can easily do this from your PC or phone with the press of a button. The software communicates back to the FMS Base which sends a signal to the Multi-Pro which then triggers a switch or task on your device.
With FMS you can remotely control and aspect of irrigation including pivots, sprinklers and drip, flood and also controlling diesel and electric motors and more.
In fact the system is so versatile that you can use FMS to control pretty much anything on your farm – if it is a motor we can connect a sensor to it. If it is a valve or tap that you need to manually turn – we connect a motor and sensor to it. No power? We hook it up using solar.
This depends on how many pumps you have and how many times per week you are watering but in general it can save you water and time and that equals money. Using this system you cut back on travel time to pumps and dams, you save money on fuel and also wear and tear on your vehicle. Imagine that you travel 10 minutes by motorbike to your pump-site each day. Add that time up over a month and you have saved yourself 10 hours, but it not just about time saved.
We took FMS a step further and added the unique feature of analog out – giving you the power to control a VSD. A VSD is a variable speed drive that ensures that your pumping system runs only at the speed it needs to. That’s right – you can reduce the speed of your pump motor and save energy. In fact we tested that lowering the speed of a motor can reduce the amount of energy needed by 50%. That’s 50% less power or fuel. You do the numbers. For more details on exactly how much you can save use our cost saving calculator here.
Many other systems on the market use sim cards or ‘line of site’ wireless technologies which really does not work for Australian farmers. Most of the time out on certain parts of the farm mobile service is patchy and not everyone has a pump or dam in line of site. We found the best way around this was to use LoRaWan or low frequency radio technology.
Using LoRaWan the FMS Base (in your home or shed – next to your computer) can communicate securely to the field device for a distance of 15km line of site or 3km through heavy vegetation and buildings. LoRaWan is the next best thing in the IOT world and is being used more and more in devices everywhere.
For more on what LoRaWan is check out the video below.
We have developed FMS so that any electrican can set it up on any farm, for pricing of individual units you can check out our shop page here. We also can install your FMS Automated Irrigation System for you – contact us on 1300 003 367 or email [email protected] for an obligation free quote.