One of the really interesting projects we have worked on over the last few years is Barn Owl Wireless. It has been live for several years and is it good to know that it is finally getting some of the recognition it deserves.
Our customer Martin Lishman is one of the premier manufacturers and distributors of specialist equipment for the agricultural, environmental and building industries.
They came to us late 2010 looking to create a new temperature monitoring and control system to be ready for the following harvest. Now they are featured in an article in The New Statesman, in the future of farming section.
Solving A Challenge
One of the challenges farmers face is cooling their grain (or other crops) down to an optimal storage temperature from the temperature required to dry it immediately after harvest. This temperature needs to be logged for inspection by the relevant authorities.
Barn Owl Wireless not only monitors and stores ambient (air) and crop temperatures, relieving farmers from having to remember to do it manually and having to physically visit stores, but also on the basis of this data autonomously controls fans to blow cooler air through the crop to cool it with minimal energy outlay to power the fans.
As the article mentions, we used embedded devices with cellular (GSM) and local radio communications to control a range of networked sensing and control equipment. Using cost-effective cloud computing services (Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon’s AWS) we were able to create a fault tolerant system that can receive readings and the control decisions from the embedded devices to a central place for monitoring and reporting.
Using an easy-to-use web site the farmers are given the information to see how the cooling of their crops is going, change the operational parameters as they see fit, and download the data for any reporting they need to do.
It has been a great project to be involved in and it is good to see it go from strength to strength.