Sensors and types of farm sites

Sensors and DIY

Hello, it would be interesting to read some background information about the types of farm sites where larger numbers of sensors are being installed. e.g. will it be possible to compare tilled and no-tilled areas and mob-grazed versus continuously grazed areas? Thanks.

3 comments

Hey Aiden: Down here on our farm -a 43ha (100 acre) site (see our website for context and a bit of detail)- we're planning to deploy a grid of 320 sensors across as many of the different mciro-ciimactic & management zones as we can reasonably cover. I'm still struggling to understand the technology and how best to use it, so we can satisfy aims of both the GROW project's Sensing Mission, and our own aims to improve understanding of our particular environment and how best to manage our operations within it.

I can say at this point that we aim to evaluate different ways of working the soil, both with and without mechanical tillage, with different regimes of irrigation and occasional sowing, and different forms of animal impact. On most of our land (excepting zones of more intensive agriculture), i consider animals to be the most powerful soil-building tools in our arsenal, as we try to run our sheep and chickens, and also the neighbors cattle, along lines of Holistic Planned Grazing as defined by the Savory Institute.

That being said: there's a lot of moving parts to try and take into account here, both on the farm and Project GROW, and considering how new i am to both (if you told me 10 years ago i'd be farming and/or playing amateur scientist on this sort of scale, i would have called the notion absurd), this is shaping up into quite the challenge!

SO: I am also very curious to hear from some others who are working along similar lines to whatever extent.

Hi Walt,

Very many thanks for this great information – what an interesting project and web site! Thanks too for the link to the Savory Institute which I hadn’t come across before. Allan Savory’s 2013 Ted talk is amazing. I noticed on his map that a large part of Spain and Portugal were included in the areas at risk of desertification.

At the recent Groundswell Agriculture 2018 (UK), Greg Judy, who farms using Holistic Planned Grazing in central Missouri, gave an inspiring talk and then a further session of questions and answers out amongst the Weston Farms cattle as they moved to fresh grazing. What a great day!

Thanks again for telling us about your context which sounds ideal for experimenting with the soil sensors.

Good eye, Aiden: you picked up on the very slide in that famous TED Talk by Allan Savory that made me sit up and pay attention -and my life has scarcely been the same ever since!

For a bit more insight into this desertification challenge: here's a little time-series slideshow i made (using a free online service you might find interesting [1] that depicts changes in vegetation on our farm over 7 months from January 2018 to this July. The few green belts that you can see floating in a sea of brown shows somewhat the impacts of my efforts at reforestation... But also shows the incredible amount of work we have yet to do.

[1] If you are interested in this topic of satellite imagery (which many in this GROW Community of Practice are, it seems), you might do well to check out this TED Talk by Will Marshall of http://www.planet.com, the service i used to make the slideshow linked above. This service is making daily images of every place on earth -generated by a revolutionary new fleet of mini-satellites- available to the internet for free.