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Enabling better global research outcomes in soil, plant & environmental monitoring.

IoT System for Real Time Nitrate Runoff Monitoring

Project background

In horticulture and cropping sectors, real time monitoring offers the potential to identify inefficiencies and optimise inputs in near real time, improving both production outputs and environmental outcomes. In sensitive catchments, such as the Great Barrier Reef, reducing nutrient leaching and sediment run-off will be critical in achieving long term environmental and production sustainability. As part of Landcare’s Smart Farming Partnerships program, Horticulture Innovation Australia is working with collaborators on the “Digital remote monitoring to improve horticulture’s environmental performance” project. In Q1 2021 the project has established four demonstration ‘smart farms’ in the Great Barrier Reef catchment area, covering banana, vegetable, macadamia and nursery sectors.


Monitoring and Network Solution

ICT International has supplied sensing for the project, including a customised IoT system for real time nitrate run-off monitoring on an Innisfail banana farm. Supported by an MFR-NODE with CAT-M1 communications, sensors installed included:

  • TriOS NICO for real time Nitrate (NO3, mg/litre of Nitrate) measurement. The four detection channels enable a precise optical determination of nitrate by absorption, considering turbidity and organic substances. It also has an internal temperature correction to increase the stability of measured values.
  • Keller Acculevel for depth monitoring (within a 200mm RBC flume) and calculation of surface water run-off discharge.

Infrastructure installed in support of the sensing system included:

  • ICT Remote Monitoring Power System (RMS140) with modifications to support the TriOS NICO, TriBox mini controller and Wiper W55 (total average power requirement of approximately 8W). The TriBox mini controller reads and logs data from the TriOS NICO, provides a dual 4 – 20mA outputs to the MFR-NODE-C, and controls the Wiper W55 for automated sensor maintenance. The ICT International range of RMS can be customised to support a wide range sensors, controllers and telemetry devices.
  • 200mm RBC Flume (RBC-200), with a stilling well for the Keller Acculevel and custom modifications to house the Trios Nico. The RBC flume is designed for the measurement of the flow rate in small, usually earthen, irrigation canals or furrows, and are ideal for use in Watershed and Edge-of-Field Runoff monitoring projects, covering a flow range of 1-49 L/sec.


The MFR-NODE-C reads and transmits nitrate and flume level data at 10 minute intervals. Data is transmitted from the MFR-NODE-C into Microsoft Azure. Hitachi Vantara are building a remote monitoring console to integrate the farm data and produce information useful to growers and the broader horticulture industry.

In addition to nitrate sensing, the ICT International SNiP-AWS5+ provides full microclimate data for the site, including rainfall volume and intensity. ICT International soil moisture probes provide real time information on deep-drainage and potential nitrate leeching to groundwater. These systems will combined provide a better understanding of nitrogen loss pathways from banana production systems in the wet tropics region of North Queensland.



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