Friday, November 13, 2015

Tracking Your Data In All Your Unusual Places

A very interesting article done on
Sluice gate on a ranch canalLet’s be honest: I say “level measurement,” you think “fluid in a tank.” It’s ok; most people do. And if we’re really honest with each other, you can admit that you probably were thinking about an industrial tank, related to factory production of some kind. And again, it’s ok. But there’s so much more to level measurement!
One of fastest growing industries for level measurement is agriculture. No, really! Farmers and ranchers have just as much to gain from automated resource management as plant production managers. Let’s look at just a few of the ways agricultural businesses are benefiting from incorporating level measurement into their operations.


Whether you are irrigating thousands of acres of crops or keeping large herds of livestock well-watered, you need to know how much water is available and how much is being applied or consumed. In the American Midwest and Southwest, this isn’t optional, or even just preferable; the wide-spread, multi-year drought means that every drop of water is precious. Survival of crops, livestock, and ultimately the farm or ranch depends on accurate measuring of wells, stream flows, and reservoir levels.
All of which means the “old eyeball test” doesn’t cut it any more. Yes, there are some farmers and ranchers who have amazing intuition about the natural resources available to them, but even they recognize the need for reliable, accurate, automatic measurements. Using satellite, point-to-point radio, or even cellular communications to link sensors and actuators across vast areas can create a network that allows centralized control of those resources.
An active sensor network reduces maintenance time, as it helps pinpoint problem areas. A breached pipe shows up as a low pressure and low to no flow; a blocked or dammed waterway will build pressure upstream of the blockage. These examples are simple, and intuitive, but trying to locate either of these problems on a large-scale agricultural operation without help from sensors is neither.


Liquid additives are commonplace throughout contemporary agriculture. Farmers use fertilizers, pesticides, and/or herbicides to protect and promote the growth of their crops. Ranchers use similar liquid-feed additives to keep their herds healthy. But how much inventory should be kept on hand? How fast is it used? How long does it take for a supplier to make a delivery after an order? Liquid level measurement to the rescue again!
For the farm or ranch owner, liquid level measurement enables instantaneous inventory appraisal. With multi-site integration and data logging, prior use can be used to precisely account for future needs across an entire enterprise. For a distributor, that forecasting knowledge can be turned into automated, scheduled deliveries. And simplified distributor-customer relationships save everyone time and money.


Liquids aren’t the only substances being measured on farms and ranches. Plenty of solids need to be accounted for as well. Granted, a level sensor might not be the best way to monitor the number of hay bales in a storage building, but a radar level sensor will handle all of the dusty feed and grain silos that need to be monitored.
Wondering what kind of sensors might be right for your agricultural applications? Our level and pressure transducers are manufactured to handle the rough and tumble of farm life. Give our Level Measurement Experts a call today, and we’ll help you find best sensor for your needs, even if it isn’t one of ours.