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Eye in the sky water monitoring gives peace of mind on Tararua station

Tuesday, 26 September, 2023

With three different water systems across 712 hectares of hill country rising to around 600 metres in the Tararua District, Alex and Rob Foreman needed a way to ensure their livestock always have water. 

They turned to Gallagher’s Satellite Water Monitoring system. This secure and reliable ‘eye in the sky’ gives them peace of mind 24 hours a day that their tanks, each containing 20,000 litres of water, are always full and their animals have water. 

Alex and Rob have been running Ruatea Trust in Alfredton, Tararua since 2016, where they live with their three children. Rob’s family has owned the station since 1985. They farm 3600 Romney ewes, 1400 hoggets and rear 150 Friesian bulls each year, growing them from four-day-old calves and finishing them at 500kgs. 

“We've got three different water systems. Some are gravity fed and some are pump fed. The nature of the property means they are not all in line of sight or in cell phone range,” says Rob. 

“With just Alex and me running the property, we needed an efficient way to keep an eye on our water and make sure our livestock always have what they need, without having to cover hundreds of kilometres to check the tanks all the time.” 

Gallagher’s Satellite Water Monitoring System uses a low-power and secure satellite connection to capture water tank level information and sends it to your phone via text or email alerts. 

As a satellite orbits the earth and passes over your device, it will collect up to four ‘reads’ a day. On the app, you then see your water tank level data that was captured when the satellite passed over and collected a ‘read’. For Rob and Alex, it was the perfect solution, giving them all the information they need about their water in the palm of their hands.  

“It’s awesome! It was so easy to set up and we get readings sent to our phones during the day as the satellite passes over us. It gives us peace of mind our tanks are always full,” says Rob. 

He has set up the Satellite Water Monitoring System to send alerts when the tanks fall below 75 percent full or 50 percent full. 

“It sends me a notification and gives me an idea of how fast the water is dropping so I can see if there’s a leak and get on to it straight away,” says Rob. 

Farming Friesian bulls, Rob is conscious of always making sure they have access to water. 

“They drink a lot more water than the sheep and they wreck stuff and dig stuff up when they don’t have access to what they want,” he says. “It’s real peace of mind knowing I can check my phone while I’m having a cup of tea and know water is getting where it needs to be.” 

Gallagher’s Satellite Water Monitoring System is also great for the summer months when it gets busy on the farm, saving Rob and Alex time not having to go and check each tank. 

“We're usually busy with our sheep in the summer,” says Rob. “If we want to get away and my father’s home looking after the place, I can send him a message and tell him to go and check a tank if there’s an issue,” says Rob. 

As the Tararua region starts to warm up for summer, Rob is starting to get notifications the tank levels are dropping a bit. The system also gives him a running tally of how many litres stock are going through each day. 

“We’re pretty lucky we don’t have any real issues with water access even in the dry summer period,” says Rob. “The tanks hold 20,000 litres and some are gravity fed. If they drop significantly, it can take a long time for the spring to refill them.” 

Rob is also impressed with the robustness of the system. 

“Most of our tanks are in high areas and the system handles the sun and windy conditions no worries,” he says. “We've also had snow on them, which has not affected its performance whatsoever. At first, I was a bit worried about the receiver poking up on top of the tank, but it’s absolutely not an issue.” 

The Satellite Water Monitoring System has already saved Rob one headache where a tank line got blocked and there was no water going into the tank. 

“I could see the water level dropping throughout the day on my phone and we knew there was an issue so I could get to it and fix it quickly,” says Rob. 

“The system gives us a better view of our water and reassurance our stock always have enough. It saves us time, but also helps us manage what is an extremely precious resource.”