Using 'Internet of Things' (IoT) technology to improve slurry management on farms.

The aim of this project is to better understand what role IoT technology has when trying to improve efficiency of application of slurry. Soil condition, water table level, rainfall levels and air temperature all influence the likelihood of water run-off from fields. When it occurs after slurry application it can waste a valuable source of nutrients and risks polluting natural water courses. 

This project will test a range of sensors at Glynllifon College and two other dairy farms in North West Wales, Hen Dŷ at Caernarfon and Erw Fawr near Caergybi. The farmers are hoping that by gaining real-time information on the conditions of the land it will allow them to quickly and safely make decision on slurry management.

Various IoT sensors will be positioned on each of the three farms:

  1. Water table sensors - The project aims to test if accurately monitoring the water table level will provide farmers with useful knowledge of when it is suitable to apply slurry onto a field.   
  2. Soil moisture sensors - The project will test the quality of the data generated against the number of sensors per field and layout pattern.    
  3. Rain Gauge - Installation of rain gauge sensors will enable farmers to monitor the amount of rainfall in the area. This will factor into the overall decision over whether conditions are correct to apply slurry.
  4. Slurry Pit Level Sensor - Good slurry management includes ensuring adequate safe storage on-farm.  This will provide accurate information to a farmer of on-farm storage capacity.  Data could be collected at a frequency deemed sensible.  A daily record could for example provide useful information on slurry build-up on farm and uncover new ways of managing slurry more efficiently. 

The information from the various sensors will feed into an app that will show a dashboard style map of the fields that will indicate fields that are suitable/unsuitable to apply slurry. The project will also evaluate the opportunity for IoT to be used for self-auditing purposes by logging environmental conditions and weather forecasts for farms as evidence that slurry is applied under suitable conditions at all times. This project will be the first of its kind in Wales and the group will evaluate the methodology in utilising IoT technology for a specific agriculture application such as slurry management to identify good practices that could be adopted by other efforts to utilise IoT in farming.