Wireless network covers entire farm

Mingenew farmer Darrin Lee successfully installed two 23 metre high connectivity towers last month to improve his internet access.

Mingenew farmer Darrin Lee successfully installed two 23 metre high connectivity towers last month to improve his internet access.

AFTER years of planning Mingenew farmer Darrin Lee successfully installed two towers last month to create a wireless network that covers his entire farm, with another tower on the way.

The main house connectivity tower on Bligh Lee farm. Mr Lee said digital agriculture was the next "sweet spot" for the industry.

The main house connectivity tower on Bligh Lee farm. Mr Lee said digital agriculture was the next "sweet spot" for the industry.

The wireless local area network completely covers his paddocks, yards, workshop and office, which Mr Lee described as “a complete smart farming solution, connecting everything from farm machines to weather and paddock stations to automate and make farm operations more efficient”.

Mr Lee said the system improved internet access and download speed across the 6500 hectare property, Bligh Lee Farms, south-east of Geraldton.

“With this complete solution I have internet access and can run our farm autonomously, even if we lose internet connectivity,” Mr Lee said.

“Prior to this solution we had a limit of six gigabytes of data for $250 a month and now we have two terabytes of data or 2000GB for $150,” he said.

“I can’t burn through 2TB a month – my kids certainly tried hard, but they still were unable, even with Netflix.”

Mr Lee will install another 25 metre tower after seeding.

Mr Lee assessed his options after years of slow internet access.

“We are still in the testing phase,” he said.

“We are installing all the older machinery with connectivity to allow us to access the analytics – how much fuel is being burnt, when it needs refuelling, live updates on yield mapping and protein mapping.

“With seeding and harvest, I can see the data from each machine being operated, from my ute or anywhere on the farm.” 

Mr Lee partnered with agriculture technology company Origo Farm and its managing director Annie Brox to find a solution and develop the complete on-farm wifi network that helps with paddock and machine monitoring and the control of livestock watering and grain bins.

Ms Brox has a family background in farming in Germany and Norway.

After delivering services internationally she decided to utilise well-known principals in technology, software and hardware and invest them into ag-tech and rural Western Australia.

After working on other projects with Ms Brox, Origo Farm and Mr Lee teamed-up to design and implement its first reference farm in WA with this new model.

“We have another three reference farms across WA,” Ms Brox said.

“But Mr Lee’s is unique.”

Origo Farm worked closely with Mr Lee on the design and he installed the system.

Ms Brox said the company wanted the system to work like no other.

“All our reference farms are contributing to ensuring that our services are made for Australian farmers, requirements and conditions,” she said.

“The principle is that farmers have their own independent wireless local area network with tools such as their private ‘cloud’ where all documents and information are stored and shared, all under the control and ownership of the farmer.

“We have put in a farm server, so you don’t have to rely on internet, you operate  autonomous on-farm.” 

The strategically placed towers provide the link from the server and the internet to all parts of Mr Lee’s property.