Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Hi-tech ‘game-changer’ for hill farming sector

Some of the hillground at Kirkton and Auchtertyre
Some of the hillground at Kirkton and Auchtertyre

When I took on this job I never imagined I would be saying that here at Crianlarich we are at the cutting-edge of the global Internet of Things.

We are particularly interested in being able to track our livestock no matter where they are on the farms, but although the use of GPS is now commonplace in many lowland and marine situations it is not ideal in mountainous environments.

For one thing, it is not possible to get connection to a sufficient number of satellites in order to obtain a precise location fix. And any sensor fitted to an animal rapidly uses up battery power when connecting regularly to satellites – resulting in a battery life of days or weeks.

LoRaWAN, or LoRa for short, is a long range, low power communications platform which is now being rolled out in cities worldwide. Providing a range of around five miles in urban, up to eight miles in suburban and over 10 miles in rural areas, LoRa is ideal for the deployment of sensors and battery-powered devices where small amounts of data need to be transmitted regularly.

As part of an ongoing Innovate UK project focused on tracking livestock, we have established a LoRa network which covers the majority of the 4,940 acres of the farms. This is the first LoRa network covering a remote, rural location in the UK and it ranges from an altitude of 170-1,000m.

There are already a range of LoRa-enabled sensors available for agricultural use such as soil measurement devices and fluid level sensors.

In addition to the development of livestock tracking technology, we are also looking to work with colleagues in CENSIS (the industry-led Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems) and others to explore the performance and robustness of a variety of existing and new LoRa-enabled sensors. The cheapness and robustness of establishing a LoRa network combined with the fact more and more LoRa-enabled sensors are becoming available will, I believe, be a game-changer for agricultural and environmental data collection in remote locations. The use of emerging technologies will be important in ensuring a future for hill farming going forward.

Davy McCracken is head of SRUC’s hill and mountain research centre at Kirkton and Auchtertyre Farms

Already a subscriber? Sign in