By Audrey Hill, Feature Contributor, Valley Ag Voice
Those who have worked in ranching know the time it takes and the importance of manually checking water storage tanks and troughs. Whether driving long distances, walking, or riding, the almost trivial task of checking livestock water sources every day undoubtedly adds hours to employees’ paychecks and miles on the work truck. Andrew Coppin, a co-founder of Ranchbot, desired to reduce daily labor-intensive tasks with an automated process that reduces business costs, all while saving water on the ranch. By using a small, solar-powered sensor installed onto a water tank, Ranchbot can turn what was half the day’s work into a push of a button.
Coppin states that buying a Ranchbot is like buying a smartphone. It will monitor water flow and pressure and will send info via satellite to another device. Certain features like rain gauges, pump controls, and trough sensors can be added, meaning water can be checked and turned on or off from another state. Alerts are completely customizable for the rancher and will only alert you in an emergency if that is preferred. “Connectivity Service” for the device is $1 a day, and for any smaller monitors like the rain gauge, it is $1 a week. Coppin is confident that his customers are happy with their switch and that Ranchbot will change the workday on the 20-head ranch, the 2,000-head ranch, and everything in between.
Coppin grew up cattle ranching in Australia and knows that water is the most essential resource on the ranch. Without sufficient water, heat stress and poor growth can significantly affect cattle’s health. Coppin and his business partner Craig Hendricks started Ranchbot in 2016 during a major drought in Australia, intending to conserve and closely monitor what water was available. Now Ranchbot serves roughly 3,500 ranches with around 12,000 sensors in Australia and the U.S., although the product will be officially released into U.S. markets in early 2023. Currently, Coppin and his team are working on creating a production line in Dallas, TX, for all U.S. markets and strengthening the product’s cold resistance to better accommodate U.S. ranches.
One of those happy customers is Seth Scribner, Operations Manager for Centennial Livestock in the Central Valley. His testimonial and many other California ranchers are on the Ranchbot website. Scribner states that the cost savings is a significant benefit and “for every piece of information that we get from that Ranchbot previously would have been burning diesel and had to have somebody in the pickup driving there to that spot.” At the Wind Wolves Preserve, where Centennial Livestock has a grazing permit, there are six Ranchbots and four more incoming. Coppin mentions that that pattern of purchase is typical and that most customers will buy a few Ranchbots and soon return to buy many more.
With water so closely monitored and maneuvered throughout the state, it only makes sense for ranchers to take back some of that control over one of their production inputs. Years of data from the monitoring system would provide excellent insight into seasonal rain patterns. As the weather becomes more extreme, careful monitoring made possible with this technology could lessen the blows of “flash droughts” and keep ranchers highly informed about the movement of the most critical resources on the ranch.
For more information, visit Ranch-bot.com.