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NDSU Using Wireless Technology to Collect Data

Producers can use wireless technology to remotely monitor and control both conditions and activities at various locations on the farm.

Similar to the global positioning system, wireless technology is finding its way to the farm.

Wireless technology is a method of sending data between electronic devices using radio waves. Wireless Local Area Networks allow computers and other electronic devices to communicate with each other.

Producers can use wireless technology to remotely monitor and control both conditions and activities at various locations on the farm. Commercial sensors are available to monitor a wide variety of conditions.

“Practical applications of these sensors allow farmers to monitor such things as weather or stored grain conditions, confined livestock facilities, water tank levels, irrigation equipment and gate positions from remote locations up to several miles from their office computer,” says John Nowatzki, North Dakota State University agricultural machine systems specialist. “Wireless networks also can incorporate separate signals to control activities at remote sites, such as switching motors on and off. These same wireless networks can provide wireless Internet access throughout the farm.”

Go to http://www.ageng.ndsu.nodak.edu/farmmonitor/index.php to see NDSU Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department applications of wireless technology in agriculture. The Web site uses information sensed at remote locations and then transfers it to the Internet by wireless radio transmissions.

The Web site includes soil temperature, soil moisture and precipitation data from NDSU strip-till research plots 15 miles northwest of Fargo. Two live cameras also are in use. One camera observes a dairy cow pen at NDSU and the other shows a backyard bird feeder.

The strip-till research is being conducted by Laura Overstreet, NDSU soil conservation and management assistant professor. The strip-till field data is transferred wirelessly 3.75 miles to a location with Internet access.

“One objective of the strip-till research is to compare soil temperature and moisture between chisel-plowed and strip-tilled fields,” Nowatzki says. “The data also will evaluate the effects on sugar beet seed germination, plant emergence and growth. The data is updated six times a day and will continue to be updated on the Web through the 2008 growing season.”

The NDSU dairy camera video feed is transferred wirelessly 1.25 miles to an Internet video server. The backyard network camera demonstrates uploading live video camera images directly to the Internet using a wireless home modem. Use Internet Explorer to view the dairy camera with the browser security settings that allow downloading unsigned ActiveX controls.

Visit the NDSU Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering Department’s wireless technology Web site at http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/abeng/wireless/ for basic information on wireless technology applications in agriculture. Department personnel are available to conduct educational seminars on this technology.

NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:John Nowatzki, (701) 231-8213, john.nowatzki@ndsu.edu
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, richard.mattern@ndsu.edu
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