During the summer months there is real pressure on water supply on farms. If there is a leak in a water pipe, a pump breaks down, or a water trough valve is broken and the trough overflows this can have significant impact on animals. A milking cow can drink 100l of water per day. On a hot, or humid day if she does not get that amount of water, she will become stressed, her production will drop and ultimately if she does not have enough water she could die.

A key issue is the amount of time needed to find and fix a water leak. A water leak from a split water-pipe, or overflowing trough, may not be discovered for some time. Or even if a problem is discovered it may take some time before the water leak is found. Depending on the size of the farm this could take anywhere from 1 hour to 1-2 days to find and fix. In the meantime animals are not receiving sufficient water, water is being wasted, pumps are running full time and potentially causing further maintenance problems and wasting electricity.

Problem Statement

How do we manage our water supply better and know when and where a problem is occurring?

The situation is a challenge because:

  1. We don’t know when there is a problem eg a leak down the back of the farm may not be discovered for some time. In the meantime the rest of the water system has had reduced pressure.

  2. We don’t know where the leak is. If we find the water pressure is low we need to drive around our farms looking for the leak. This can take a lot of time.

  3. We don’t know the performance of our water supply in different parts of the farm – one water trough may have full pressure, another may have stones stuck in the valve, or a pipe filled with iron or manganese deposits.

Need Statement

An innovative solution to this problem would include:

  1. A dashboard with the farm water supply, showing green lights over water lines that are up to pressure and which troughs are full with water, and red lights for empty troughs and low pressure lines.

  2. A system of sensors, which can determine where a water leak is occurring

  3. App based so that a farmer can check their phone for updates on the water supply when they are out on the farm

  4. Must be simple, cost-effective and reliable. Something a farmer can maintain or fix with some training.

Impact Statement

The desired result is that water leaks will be detected early and an alert raised to the farmer.

Better management of water will increase production, reduce stress in animals and provide better guarantees of animal welfare.

It will reduce wastage of water and electricity, improve environmental management, reduce time in finding the leaks and reduce petrol used while driving around the farm.