USU Cooperative Extension introduced a type of solar-powered, round-the-clock ranching technology to the state of Utah that could change farm operation forever. The technology, known as the satellite-radio-stock-water monitoring system, came to Utah last year and its awareness and production are still ongoing. Designed by Automata, Inc., a California-based company, the system can help ranchers monitor their stock water ? privately-owned irrigation water ? through e-mail and phone alerts. This helps limit the trips that ranchers need to make ? some can be as long as six hours round-trip ? in order to make sure that their stock water is still at appropriate levels. “When you realize that you can check your stock water and not even start your pickup, it’s pretty amazing,” Heaton said. Kevin Heaton, a USU cooperative extension agent for Kane and Garfield counties, is the principle investigator responsible for writing the Conservation Innovation Grant, a bestowal that allowed the technology to come to Utah. The system has the capacity to assist southern Utah ranchers in saving both time and money, and is being utilized by ranchers throughout Kane, Garfield and Washington counties. Heaton said that a great advantage of the system is the luxuries it affords to focus on other tasks that don’t require such time and distance. “If (a rancher) has the option where he can check his water during the day, he can do other things in his schedule that are more important than just checking his water,” he said. The monitors send data via satellite radio, powered by a solar battery. “It’s accessible anywhere, as long as you have access to the sky,” he said. The unit has a mini-satellite that transmits data generated from a transducer, or energy-converting, sensor to a website. The system is powered by a solar panel that charges the battery and operates the system 24 hours per day. To read the rest of this article on the Utah Statesman website, click here.
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