When Don & Colleen Costello, managers of one of the largest Angus beef operations in Australia, send their bore runners out, they are looking down the barrel of a 400km round trip. But now, with the addition of Farmbot monitoring solutions across its properties, providing complete coverage of their properties, those end-to-end bore runs are mostly a thing of the past.
The Costello & Oldfield families run a 2.8 million hectare operation near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. Crown Point Pastoral is an aggregation of four cattle stations, Lilla Creek, Horseshoe Bend, New Crown and Andado which runs around 30,000 head of cattle, mostly Angus.
With such a sprawling operation, one of the major challenges for the management team is the vast distances that must be covered by Crown Point workers each day, and checking water tanks and dams has historically been one of the greatest drains on resources.
Crown Point Pastoral has now installed 85 Farmbot units across its four stations. Each device monitors a water tank or dam, and delivers real-time, event-driven reports to farmers when they detect abnormal behaviour, such as when the water falls too quickly (potential damage to a pipe), rises too quickly (an animal may have potentially fallen in), or stops moving altogether (an issue with a pump).
Alerts are sent to a mobile device, with data also able to be captured and used to understand more about water storage and collection on farm.
According to Colleen Costello, Farmbot has changed Crown Point Pastoral’s relationship with time and water.
“As a producer, there are two resources that we always need more of, water and time. Farmbot gives us more of both.
“With real-time alerts, we no longer have to send runners out to check all our tanks and dams ‘just in case’ there is an issue. Now, we know within the minute whether a pump has broken, a beast has fallen into a dam, or if there are any other issues with our water tanks. And when there is an issue, we can mobilise our team immediately to fix it. It gives us priceless peace of mind.
“While Farmbot might not make it rain, it helps us manage what we have more effectively.”
“We’ve done the calculations and by investing in complete coverage of our water receptacles across our properties, we have essentially created at least one whole new ‘day’ of time each week, on account of not having to spend time traversing our expansive operations. We can use this time to focus our resources on more value-added tasks,” she said.
As well as time, the use of Farmbot is also making the business more profitable and ultimately more sustainable.
“Travelling 400km every other day to check on water tanks is not only time consuming but it comes at great expense, with astronomical fuel costs as well as wear and tear on vehicles and labour expenses. Our investment in Farmbot units have paid themselves off in approximately a year, every year beyond that is money in our back pocket,” Colleen said.
The investment in Farmbot forms part of a wider strategy for Crown Point as it looks to make investments that will help it make more informed, valuable decisions about its operations.
“We believe that AgTech has an important role to play in the long-term profitability of our operation here at Crown Point. However, we are careful that we only make investments in technology that serves a real purpose, and helps us make better business decisions. That’s why Farmbot, which gives us more time in the day, more money in our hip pocket and peace of mind at all times, was an absolute no brainer for us,” Colleen concluded.