REMOTE STOCK WATER MONITORING PROJECT
Southern Utah ranchers manage livestock in extremely remote areas. Ranchers monitor their cattle regularly, weekly or monthly, as their cattle spread out over thousands of acres. Southern Utah ranchers utilize water developments such as wells, troughs, pipelines, pumps, storage tanks, stock ponds and guzzlers to meet their livestock water needs. Troughs become targets for the local vandal, wells go dry, pipelines freeze or break, pumps quit, storage tanks leak, stock ponds erode, and guzzlers fail. Ranchers must monitor these systems regularly to ensure they are working properly. Monitoring is costly in terms of time, energy consumption and vehicle maintenance. Even with regular monitoring, the rancher cannot monitor 100% of the time and in his absence, according to ‘Murphy’s Law’, something will break, freeze, leak or quit working.
Technology is currently available that could reduce the costs associated with regular monitoring of stock water. Satellite radio has recently been adapted to be a reliable, stand-alone system that can monitor stock water any area that has a clear view of the sky. The satellite-radio-stock-watering system is powered by a solar panel that charges a battery and operates the system 24 hours daily. The unit has a mini-satellite that transmits data generated from a transducer sensor to a website. A rancher can use the internet to monitor his stock water. If the water is depleted to a preset level, the satellite-radio-stock-water monitor will email the rancher and/or call his home or cell phone with an alert message. The stand-alone nature of this system makes it the most feasible for remote, rugged ranches of Southern Utah.
The Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Conservation Innovation Grant program provided funding to demonstrate remote stock water monitoring on 15 ranches in southern Utah.