Extensive water point telemetry

Project: Benefits of implementing water point telemetry on extensive beef enterprises

Location: Dampier Downs and Anna Plains Stations

Species: Cattle

Status: Ongoing

Topic: Grazing and pasture management

State: Western Australia


The difficulty and expense of sourcing labour on northern pastoral leases has led to poor labour efficiency, which has been identified as a significant threats to the economic sustainability of northern cattle businesses. 

Monitoring and maintaining water availability to livestock is one of the most regular and time consuming tasks in extensive cattle enterprises.

Technology exists that utilises telemetry to monitor remote water points and transmit data back to a central location. 

The use of telemetry technology to monitor water points is one of the best opportunities to rapidly improve labour efficiency. The installation of such a system can reduce the labour required to ensure that water is available to livestock by 50 – 75%.

Telemetry systems range from simple monitoring-only systems to highly advanced, fully automated systems. Whether the optional extras (cameras, remote engine controllers etc) warrant the extra investment requires evaluation. It is proposed to trial these additional features at one site per station to determine the usefulness of these add-on features.

The project will be run on three properties, Anna Plains and Dampier Downs in the Kimberley and Yarrie in the Pilbara. Dampier Downs will trial an Observant remote monitoring system, while Anna Plains will trial an Observant system that utilises 3G technology. Yarrie will trial a Bontech system that utilises 3G technology in conjunction with USee remote cameras.


The objectives of the project are to demonstrate:

  • the financial benefits of installing remote monitoring systems including cost recovery and improved labour efficiency
  • the application of remote monitoring in the Kimberley and Pilbara environments and to identify any issues that  are preventing adoption in the region


Early analysis shows that the cost of of bore visits from September to mid-December 2012 totalled approximately $4,500 in wages (assuming a pay rate of $25/hr) and $8,000 in vehicle running costs. It was found that approximately 20% of these bore visits were not required, equating to $2500 in labour costs and 37.5 hours in lost time driving to these bores. 

Due to the unusually extended wet season in Western Australia, Anna Plains and Yarrie are still in the process of collecting pre-telemetry data and will have their numbers in by the end of the 2013 dry season.

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