Byte size case studies

Fresh thinking solves a unique problem

Hayden and Jessie Dorman are herd owning sharemilkers on a 180ha dairy farm located in Dorie, 10km east of Rakaia. They approached DataCol to help solve a particular problem they had.

On their farm they have two pump sites with two wells at each site. One well is deep while the other is a shallow well. The shallow wells are cheaper to run but at both locations are affected by river flow restrictions. With the 2013 summer drought, river flow restrictions kicked in for the first time in about 12 years. The deep wells were an insurance against drought conditions, so the Dorman’s had to switch over and draw water from these wells for irrigation.

The problem was that they were both hydraulically connected; linked together with only one meter for both wells at each site. So when the shallow wells went on restriction Environment Canterbury (ECan) were concerned that they couldn’t tell if they were using the shallow or deep wells. So they flagged it as an issue and asked the Dorman’s to solve the problem.

The logical reaction would be to install another logger and meter onto the second well at each site. However, DataCol noticed that all the electrics came back to one place at each site. After some creative thinking with all parties, we came up with a unique solution. DataCol suggested that they install a current switch on the mains cable wired to each well. This meant that the Dorman’s and ECan, even though they only had one meter at each site, could tell which pump was operating. ECan were very understanding and approved the logic behind the theory. DataCol implemented the solution which satisfied ECan’s requirements. Even happier were the Dorman’s who didn’t have to purchase additional meters, loggers nor pay for the installation of new headworks; this unique solution saved them thousands of dollars.

Making sense of everything

The Isaac Group have a long and distinguished history in Canterbury and the South Island. So we were very happy to have been selected to do the metering and monitoring work for them. There is a diverse range of activities on their property including a:

  • Wildlife sanctuary
  • Rare breeds programme
  • Salmon farm
  • Salmon processing plant
  • Cement Plant
  • Sheep farm
  • Dairy farm

Water is very important to them with a number of different consents and meters involved spread around the property. DataCol took a very complex setup, and arranged and organised it all into one easy to monitor solution. So now, the Isaac management team can see exactly what is being used and where.

They also had a problem that they were working through with Environment Canterbury to solve. Isaac’s needed to discharge water to prove a certain process, so they asked DataCol if they were able to setup a temporary metering system. The objective was to run a trial for a period of two weeks and measure the flow and volume rates. The trail ended with the results accurately proving the volume of water being used.

A well-oiled machine

Brent Collins is better known for dominating the race track but he also works on the family farm in Pareora, managing amongst other tasks, the large crop of blackcurrants they produce. He approached DataCol in late 2012 to install water metering solutions prior to the November 2012 National water compliance regulations coming into effect.

It was a good sized job, with 11 sites in total covering over 1,500ha. However, like a well drilled pit crew, all the pipe works and site areas were complete when the DataCol team arrived on site which made for a very smooth installation process. This meant that the meter installation work commenced immediately without time wastage.

With DataCol’s website, all the data and consent conditions are presented in a very easy to understand layout. This means Brent receives alerts via text messages and emails if water consumption exceeds or gets close to consent conditions. Brent is delighted with the solution and is already considering the installation of additional sensors and add-ons to his system. Some of these sensors are soil moisture and temperature sensors. These are used to provide data on the amount of moisture in the soil and the soil temperature with moisture and temperature data uploaded every 15 min on to the website. Potentially, there will be a number of sensors as the farm covers a large area with varied soil types and densities.

With greater and clear visibility of collected information, Brent will be able to efficiently manage his water allocation and smarter in his irrigation use.

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