Remote Water Trough Monitor Project - Part 1

Remote Water Trough Monitor Project - Part 1
Photo by Grant Durr / Unsplash

Welcome to Part 1 of this exciting real-world IoT project. I am going to step through the process of applying an IoT solution to the use case of monitoring a remote water trough used for livestock like horses, cattle and sheep. This project will serve as an affordable agtech pilot and will be installed at an agricultural site to check suitability.

In this multi part series, I will work you through the entire project.

Part 1 - will introduce the project. What it it and why I am doing it.

Part 2 - will cover the requirements of the solution and explain the IoT technology including: IoT devices, IoT sensors and IoT platform.

Part 3 - will install the system in the field and report findings.

What is a water trough?

A water trough (also known as a stock tank) is a long, narrow container typically made of metal (galvanised steel or stainless steel), concrete or plastic that is used to hold water for livestock on a farm or ranch. They are often placed in paddocks, pastures or other areas where the animals graze and need access to clean drinking water.

Water troughs come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but most are rectangular or circular in shape and can hold anywhere from a few litres to several hundred litres of water. They are often placed on the ground or elevated on stands, depending on the needs of the farmer and the animals they are caring for.

A popular brand of troughs in Australia is polymaster.

To use the livestock trough, a farmer or animal owner typically fills the container with fresh, clean water, and then places it in a location where their animals can easily access it. This may involve positioning the stock trough near a fence or gate, or installing it in a central location within the animals environment. This is very commonly found in feedlots.

As animals drink from the water trough or via evaporation, the level of water in the container will naturally decrease. To ensure that animals have a reliable source of water at all times The Farmer or Owner must either:

  • Periodically check the trough and refill manually it as needed
  • Install a pressurised water line with a water trough float valve to automatically top up the water trough

This is especially important during hot weather or times of drought, when animals may drink more water than usual.

Water troughs are an essential tool for animal owners who raise livestock. They provide a convenient and reliable source of drinking water for the animals, helping to keep them stay healthy and well-nourished.

What is a water trough float valve?

A water trough float valve is a device used in water troughs to regulate the level of water in the container. It works by using the buoyancy of a float to control the flow of water into the trough.

The valve typically consists of a float attached to an arm that extends up and over the edge of the water trough. As the water level in the trough drops, the float lowers, causing the arm to move downward. This movement opens a valve that allows fresh water to flow into the trough from a connected water supply.

As the water level in the trough rises, the float rises with it, causing the arm to move upward. This, in turn, closes the valve, stopping the flow of water into the trough. The float valve is designed to maintain a consistent water level in the trough, ensuring that there is always enough water for the animals to drink without the trough overflowing or running dry.

The float valves are typically easy to install and require little maintenance. They are a convenient and inexpensive device to ensure that their animals always have access drinking water.

Why remotely monitor a water trough?

Monitoring the water usage of a trough can be helpful for several reasons:

Conservation: By tracking the amount of water used by the animals, farmers can identify potential water waste and implement measures to conserve water. This is especially important in areas where water resources are limited, as excessive water use can contribute to water scarcity and environmental degradation, particularly during drought conditions.

Animal Health: It is essential for animals to have access to a sufficient supply of clean, fresh drinking water. Monitoring water usage can help animal owners identify if the animals have access to water, are consuming enough water and if they are showing signs of dehydration, which can lead to health problems.

Efficiency: Tracking water usage can help farmers optimise their operations, making them more efficient and cost-effective. For example, monitoring water usage can help farmers determine how often to refill the water, which can save time and effort.

Early Detection of Issues: Changes in water usage can also be an early indication of issues with the trough or water supply. For example, if water usage suddenly drops, it may indicate a leak or a malfunctioning float valve.

Real-time Access: Water usage data can be made available online, allowing animal owners to access it from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Multiple people such farmers, farmhands, veterinarians, property owners or even consultants, can also have access to this information, making it easier to collaborate and manage the water usage of the animals.

Alerting: A remote monitoring system can also provide alerts to farmers if water levels drop too low, or if there are any abnormalities in the water usage patterns. This can help animal owners respond quickly to issues and prevent potential problems, ensuring the health and well-being of their animals.

Overall, a remote monitoring water usage can help farmers ensure that their animals have access to sufficient water while also conserving resources, maintaining animal health, and improving the efficiency of their operations.

Please join me as I explore implementing an IoT approach to this real-world application. Would you monitor your water trough? Let me know. If you have any interest or feedback on the project, I welcome your input.