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.
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:
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.