When Brook House Farm in Bromyard were looking for a way to monitor their hops more effectively, they turned to Mockingbird Consulting for help.
Our team met with farm owner Will and his agronomist Davide, and talked with them about the challenges they faced. It was clear that monitoring the weather and soil conditions and correlating those measurements would play a vital part in the project, so we undertook a full market analysis to find the most appropriate sensors for the task.
After analysing five different options for soil conditions, we settled on the Tektelic Agricultural Sensor as it provided soil moisture and temperature measurements, as well as ambient light, humidity, and temperature and has an expected battery life of up to 10 years.
The next challenge was how to best record the weather conditions on to the same platform as the agricultural sensor.
After determining the metrics that were required, we again went out to our suppliers to find the best possible option and opted for the Barani Design MeteoHelix IoT Pro . The MeteoHelix IoT Pro has recently achieved certification to World Meteorological Organisation Standards, making it one of the most accurate weather stations in the world!
Coupling the weather station with a wired rain gauge, we were able to provide Will and Davide with far more granular and localised weather data than had previously been available to them, allowing them to see how fast the various areas of their hop poles soaked up moisture depending on the amount of rainfall.
The final part of the challenge was ensuring a safe harvest and keeping track of vehicles as they made their way around the estate.
Working with RAK Wireless, we chose the RAK Wireless 7205 solar-powered GPS tracker as the best option for the job, and configured them to talk back to our fully-managed IoT platform in the same way as the other sensors.
Finally, we turned up on site to undertake the installation of the various equipment. In hindsight, picking the first day of the harvest to install the IoT radio gateway on the top of the hop barn was probably not the wisest of decisions, however the installation team from Netfit Communications did us proud as always and within a couple of hours we had confirmed that all of the sensors were feeding back to the platform.
As with all our managed IoT solutions our comprehensive support solution started the moment the sensors were live, leaving Will and Davide to manage the farm whilst we manage the technology.
We look forward to continuing to work with the team at Brook House Farm as they move from season to season, and with the potential to add artificial intelligence to the project in future this could be a groundbreaking project for the hop-growing industry!