Micro satellite technology is becoming a real option in the fight to track and monitor 160,000 feral buffalo roaming the Northern Territory.
The space technology can deliver real-time, geographically accurate insights into herd density and accessibility, and this data can be teamed with other IoT enabled agricultural equipment, such as electric fencing and remote gates, to better control the animals and be part of a new trend in precision agriculture.
“Australia’s space industry is creating exciting new possibilities for innovative ways to solve challenges, like using satellites to manage our wide, open land in more culturally and environmentally sensitive ways,” said Dr. Larry Marshall, chief executive of the CSIRO.
CDO Trends reported “last month, in what could establish a precedent for dealing with these pests, an AUD 4 million project was announced to help manage the buffalo using new micro-satellite technology”.
“Each weighing around 5 kilograms and no larger than a shoebox, a constellation of low orbiting micro-satellites orbiting at around 450 kilometers above the earth will track the herds of buffalos from signals sent by GPS tracking ear tags. Several thousands of the animals will be tagged”.
“We’re not talking about individual paddocks here, we’re talking about 25 million hectares over the three properties we are working on,” CSIRO scientist Dr. Justin Perry told the ABC. For reference, that is about the size of the U.K.
Up until now, researchers have used land-based stations to collect data on buffalo movement, but the structures just weren’t tough enough to withstand the conditions, which include cyclones and extreme weather events.
Now, a combination of 5G, micro-satellites and IoT technology holds out the promise not only of monitoring incursions by these animals, largely introduced to Australia in the 19thcentury, but in controlling their movements.