SWNRM Provides a Digital, On-Farm Advantage

In among the mulga paddocks on Burrandilla, 60km west of Charleville, Stephen Schmidt connects Wi-Fi to his iPhone, beamed from a telemetric tower.

Mr Schmidt can now update his inbox, check the Roma cattle market and make important business phone calls thanks to four telemetric towers situated at watering points around the family-run property.

The Wi-Fi signal is cast out to a 200 metre radius.

The project was funded through South West NRM, a natural resources management company based in Charleville, which receives state and federal funding to implement and oversee environmental, social and economic projects in the area.

The project is a first for South West NRM, who see technological developments on properties as a way to value-add to graziers’ social, economic and environmental goals in this digital world.

With 900 cows to manage on the property, Mr Schmidt spends long hours outdoors - a catalyst for making the most of Telstra signal, beamed off towers 100 kilometres away.

The South West NRM-funded towers have resulted in this grazier not having to travel back to the homestead to listen to missed calls on an answering machine or jump on a PC – it can all happen out in the paddock now.

Relying on a stable and secure internet connection is pivotal to making business decisions and taking important phone calls in the digital age of business, he says.

“Essentially we are looking for safety points around the property and also for conducting business throughout the day.”

Looking to the future Mr Schmidt is relying on family help to build a mobile phone application that will determine water levels in water tanks that stand next to the towers.

“Because all the water has got to be pumped it’s the cost of having a leak… We can save time knowing there is an issue and get there straight away.”

“What we’re hoping to be able to do is have water level monitors in each tank. There is a tank at each location where gravity feeds to other watering points. If we can have a water level monitor that can keep a graph of what the water is doing everyday we’ll know how much water is being used by the spikes and drops in the graph.”

The Wi-Fi signal also serves as a safety measure, allowing workers to check in at specific points instead of returning to the homestead.

Mr Schmidt also foresees monitoring electric fences for power surges with the technology – signs that wild dogs may be entering paddocks, preying on livestock.

“What we are doing is relatively inexpensive and you can probably erect one of these towers in a couple of hours."




Prepared by Martin Volz, Media Officer, martin.volz@swnrm.org.au

More information Phil McCullough, CEO, 0407 126 689