Western Australia's Department of Agriculture and Food has commenced a new Producer Demonstration Site in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of the State, jointly funded with Meat and Livestock Australia.
Department development officer Anne-Marie Huey said the aim of the demonstration sites was to examine the benefits of implementing telemetry to remotely monitor water points on extensive beef properties.
“Depending on the system used, telemetry enables producers with an internet connection to monitor the level of water in a tank anywhere on the property from anywhere in the world,” Ms Huey said.
“The demonstration sites will allow us to measure the time and cost of physically driving out and checking water points and compare that with the benefits and disadvantages of using telemetry systems to remotely monitor water points.
“Three properties are participating in the trial – Dampier Downs and Anna Plains in the Kimberley and Yarrie in the Pilbara.”
Dampier Downs will trial the Observant system, using radio (UHF) telemetry to communicate information from bores to the homestead while Anna Plains will trial Observant using the 3G (mobile) network to transmit data.
Yarrie will trial a different telemetry system, BonTech, which also uses 3G technology.
Ms Huey said each station would collect three months of dry season bore/mill run data before installing telemetry units on two selected waters to allow for a detailed comparison of information pre and post-telemetry.
“The dollar cost of physically checking water points is calculated by adding the hourly rate of staff and vehicle running costs,” Ms Huey said.
“For example, if the hourly rate for a bore runner is $25 and the bore run takes two hours to conduct, each bore run costs $50 in staff costs.
“Vehicle running costs are calculated at $40/hr and $0.30/km.
“Early analysis from pre-telemetry data submitted by Dampier Downs reveals the cost of checking bores from September to mid-December last year was approximately $4500 in wages and $8000 in vehicle running costs.
“This indicates the potential for significant cost savings by using telemetry and the opportunity to use staff time more constructively on the station.
“Post-telemetry data from Dampier Downs revealed a saving of $1,200 and 16 hours from one bore.”
Figures provided by David Stoate of Anna Plains also showed cost savings of $4300 and 50 hours by using telemetry on three water points.
Mr Stoate said the savings demonstrated to date were expected to increase as more bores were fitted with telemetry.
“We are very happy with the results so far and look forward to increasing our number of units – and therefore our savings – in the near future,” Mr Stoate said.
Pre-telemetry data for Yarrie will be available at the end of the 2013 dry season.