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Electric fence monitoring technology improves efficiencies

Electric fence monitoring technology improves efficiencies

Electric fence monitoring technology improves efficiencies

Gus and Tara Barr manage The Wandle, a breeding and finishing farm in Middlemarch, Central Otago. With staff becoming harder to find, the couple searched for new technologies to reduce their reliance on labour. Fence monitoring was identified to contain their cattle and prime lambs, and allow for better use of staff time.

The 2,550 ha effective farm is mostly flat land, though it is terraced with 500 ha of hill country along the Rock and Pillar Range. Gus and Tara, along with six full-time staff, run 4,000 headwaters ewes, 250 Angus cows, Friesian bulls and finish a further 25,000 trade lambs and 1,400 cattle annually for Lone Star Farms.

Gus and Tara installed the Tru-Test Farm Network Fence Monitoring system. The system monitors voltage continuously along the length of fencing using a smart mesh of fence nodes. Up to 50 nodes can be installed in each network to relay voltage information in real time via radio frequency.

Across The Wandle, a good portion of the 2,500 ha of fencing is four or five-wire with at least one wire electric. Tara says making sure the fences are well-maintained and remain hot to keep the stock secure, takes time. “We wanted a system that fault finds in real-time allowing us to easily locate the right spot to fix faults promptly. This cuts down on labour time and makes the whole system more effective.”

The Barrs set up a network of 15 Tru-Test nodes over two energizers to monitor a portion of both irrigated and dryland areas across the property. The system alerts them in real-time of any power issues, narrowing down the location of the fault to within a few paddocks.

To maintain healthy animals, productivity, and to meet contractual supply requirements, Gus and Tara run a tightly controlled grazing rotation. A quick response to faults gives them peace of mind regarding livestock welfare.

“The whole team has the app on their phones, so if there’s a short, it can be dealt with straight away. This reduces downtime, in terms of finding multiple faults instead of just one, and keeps the system operating at a higher voltage consistently,” says Gus.

“We get a lot of wind here, so if a tree blows over a fence, an alert is sent. We then know which gateways and nodes are offline so a generator can be placed on the energisers.”

Another time the Tru-Test Farm Network Fence Monitoring system proved an asset, Gus recalls, was when fence nodes lost power as his team was shifting breaks. “A gate swung around and hit the hot wire, shorting it out. A quick call and this was easily resolved.”

He also notes the system is agnostic and works with any brand of energizer, removing the need for a significant investment in this area.

To discuss how the Tru-Test Farm Network Fence Monitoring system could increase efficiencies on your farm, contact your local PGG Wrightson Technical Field Representative.