Agricultural Water Tank Monitoring

Application Background

Remote water tanks have, for hundreds of years, been checked by staff riding or driving to the tank location to check if there is water available for livestock to drink.
With an automated tank monitoring system, the need to visit each tank to check the water level is no longer necessary. When the automated system indicates a fault, staff can visit the specific locations to rectify the problem rather than visiting all of the tank locations.

Application Details

Water is usually pumped from groundwater bores by either a diesel engine or a windmill and is then stored in a large on-site tank. The water is usually gravity fed into concrete stock drinking troughs. The drinking troughs usually have float operated cistern like water input systems, where the lowering float operates a valve to allow more water to enter the troughs.

Simple float switches can also be installed so it operates if the trough has more than a certain level. Perhaps three float switches can be installed to indicate different levels within the trough, for example, a high level, a medium level and a low level. Readings from the trough limit switches will allow the staff to know how much water is in the trough. Likewise, float limit switches can be installed inside the main water storage tank, which will indicate the reserve of water remaining in the tank.

If there is a windmill on-site, a small proximity switch can be mounted on the windmill rotating shaft and the rotations can be measured to indicate the speed of the windmill at each hour of the day. The number of pulses per hour indicates the speed of the windmill and the pumping capacity of the windmill per hour / per day / per week.
Each float switch is wired back to the Neon Metering Logger which is set up to detect when there is a switch closure. The Neon Metering Logger alarm can be activated based on the specified water level condition and then sent to the Neon server via cell phone, satellite or local WiFi networks. The Neon Server processes the alarm and sends emails and/or text messages to alert operators of that out of limit and potential overflow condition.

The Neon Metering Logger would also record locally all the changes to the switches continuously, including the switch changes based on the proximity switch on the windmill mechanism, storing this data locally every 5 minutes. This routine data would then be sent off to the Neon Server every few hours / every day to provide the detailed status of the tank and troughs and the speed of the windmill, or status of a local diesel pump.

Consideration should also be given to adding a low-resolution camera to the system, pointed towards the tank and troughs and setting up the camera to take a low-resolution photo perhaps three times a day to observe stock movement around the troughs.
A power budget should be performed by Unidata engineers to decide the best power method, usually a small solar panel and sealed lead-acid battery. When considering the best telemetry method, it is expected that cell phone technology will be used, where available, as this is the most economical method. For very remote locations satellite technology will be needed, for example, the Inmarsat Regional beam system. This system will most likely be more than sufficient for this very low bandwidth application.

While other water level sensor types could be used, for example, a hydrostatic depth gauge inside or attached to the outlet pipe of the water storage tank, the application is so simple that it is more economical to use simple float switches which can be purchased for just a few dollars.
When this system is set up, staff can view the water levels using a web browser on a computer, tablet or smartphone connected to the internet. The system can be set up with a schematic Node on Neon which displays a mimic diagram the actual levels in the tank and the speed of the windmill.

The low-resolution regular photos can also be displayed using the web browser on the Neon Server interface.

Typical Configuration

Options for Application Specific Instruments / InputsUnidata Part NumberDescription
Mechanical Limit SwitchesCustom PartVarious Industrial Switches
Ethernet Camera2502B / C / FVarious IP Cameras
Hydrostatic Water Depth Probes6542D-A / B / CPT12 Pressure / Temperature Sensor SDI-12 3.5m, 10m or 20m
Hydrostatic Water Depth Probes Titanium6542D-T-A / B / CPT12 Pressure / Temperature Sensor SDI-12 3.5m, 10m or 20m
4-20mA Pressure Transmitter6548A-B / CSubmersible Pressure Transmitter 4-20mA 5m or 10m

Options for Neon Telemetry - NRL / NRT / RTU / Field UnitsUnidata Part NumberDescription
Industrial (Metal Enc) Neon Remote Logger 16 Channels3016Options Available: 3G/4G Cellular, Ethernet, Inmarsat, Iridium SBD and LoRa
Industrial (Metal Enc) Neon Remote Logger 8 Channels3008Options Available: 3G/4G Cellular, Ethernet, Inmarsat, Iridium SBD and LoRa
Industrial (Metal Enc) Neon Remote Logger 4 Channels3004/3006Options Available: 3G/4G Cellular, Iridium SBD and LoRa
Neon Remote Logger (Polycarbonate Enc) 4 Channels M Series3004M/3006MOptions Available: 3G/4G Cellular, Microsatellite, Iridium SBD and LoRa
Equatorial Orbit Satellite - Inmarsat2018F-AB0-1 or 3NRT Ethernet with single or triple Ethernet Ports with three Li Batteries
NRT Field Termination Strip2103F2018F and 2022 NRT FTS
NRT Firmware Option2303A-8M8M Extended Memory Option
NRT Firmware Option2303A-8M-CAM8M Extended Memory & Serial Camera Option
NRT Firmware Option2303A-CAMSerial Camera Option

Options for Neon Application Software - Customer ServerUnidata Part NumberDescription
Neon Application Software2302ANeon Server Software Licence Incl 5 NAL
Neon Application Software2302A-10Additional 10 NRT Access Licences
Neon Application Software2302A-20Additional 20 NRT Access Licences
Neon Application Software2302A-50Additional 50 NRT Access Licences

Options for Neon Application Software - Unidata ServerUnidata Part NumberDescription
Neon Application Software2301ANeon Data Initial Subscription Setup Fee
Neon Hosting Service2301A-01Neon Data Service Fee for 1-50 NRTs
Neon Hosting Service2301A-02Neon Data Service Fee for 51-100 NRTs
Neon Hosting Service2301A-10Neon Data Service Fee Metering

Options for Conventional Dataloggers / Field UnitsUnidata Part NumberDescription
Neon Remote Logger 16 Analog Channels / Touch Screen Display3016-00016 Ch NRL (Superseded Prologger 7001D)
Neon Remote Logger 8 Analog Channels / Touch Screen Display3008-0008 Ch NRL (Superseded Stalogger 6004D)
Neon Remote Logger 4 Analog Channels / Touch Screen Display3004M-0004 Ch NRL (Superseded Micrologger 8010C)
Starlog V4 Management Software6308A-AUEStarlog V4 Full Licence Key