M2M technology enables wireless monitoring and control system for agricultural applications

A new agricultural crop storage monitoring system, currently being implemented in farms across the UK, uses advanced wireless machine-to-machine (M2M) products and technology from Digi International, a leading M2M solutions provider. The Barn Owl Wireless system has been developed by Martin Lishman, a manufacturer and distributor of specialist agricultural equipment, and is a comprehensive and reliable store monitoring and control system for farmers and store managers. Also aiding the development of the system was Solid State Supplies, a specialist design-in distributor for Digi in the UK.

The Barn Owl Wireless system breaks new ground in recording, handling and storing large amounts of crop temperature data using a unique combination of ZigBee-based radio and 3G/2G data transmission connecting to a remote application. The development process has involved devising crop-store-friendly radio transmitters and receivers and devising new data handling protocols to ensure that the information available to users is reliable, accurate and continuous.

Remote access and automated recording means much simpler and less time-consuming quality assurance procedures. Using the Internet, and without the need for any specially installed software, users of the Barn Owl Wireless system can remotely access all the temperature and humidity information from Pile-dry Pedestals, fans and on-floor or under-floor cooling and drying systems used in crop storage facilities.

In addition, users have the ability to automatically control crop cooling and drying fans via the Internet with a choice of Barn Owl Wireless software programs. The specially developed zonal control system ensures that fans are turned on to cool or dry the grain only when necessary, saving trips to distant stores to turn fans on or off. This means that not only does the grain reach the target temperature and moisture extremely quickly, but also delivers significant cost savings – at least a 40% reduction in energy costs can be made from the lower overall power consumption of cooling fans alone.

Barn Owl Wireless is both simple to install and easy to use: intuitive web pages showing crop stores in simple diagrammatic form make it possible to see what is going on in the store at a glance and in real time. Historical data can be viewed in both graphical and tabular formats, either as a general overview or in specific detail. Contract storage customers can also be given read-only access.

Barn Owl Wireless was launched at the end of last year and has undergone extensive trials deployed in multiple farms and other agricultural sites. Extremely positive feedback has been received with many of the sites even expanding their respective system, demonstrating the overall scalability of the solution.

“The Digi XBee-PRO radio modules, wireless gateways and other various M2M products were ideal as the technology foundation to Barn Owl Wireless,” said Gavin Lishman, Managing Director, Martin Lishman Ltd. “In addition, the support we received from Solid State Supplies has been absolutely fantastic. Not only have they delivered first class support for the Digi products that underpin the system, they have also contributed key ideas and solutions in the development of crucial pieces of custom hardware, enabling us to quickly bring this innovative product to market.”

“Barn Owl Wireless is a great example of how Digi’s M2M solutions portfolio can enable fast and easy access to monitoring and control functionality, reducing both energy usage and labour costs for organisations as a result”, said Frederic Luu Vice President of Sales and Marketing – Asia & EMEA, Digi International.

“The system perfectly showcases the potential of wireless M2M solutions to drive business efficiencies in many markets, including agriculture, mobile-asset management, healthcare, and energy management applications such as smart metering and demand response, among many others,” said Richard Bethell, Technical Director, Solid State Supplies.



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