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Successful controlled haystack burn validates innovative haystack monitoring project

5 Jul 2022

Adelaide, Australia – 5 July 2022 – Researchers have validated sensors to monitor changes in temperature in a controlled burn of a haystack

A new collaborative research project between Food Agility CRC, Charles Sturt University (CSU), IAG, and Myriota is examining what data is most essential to understanding haystack degradation as a precursor to fires.

Haystack fires can happen spontaneously and variables such as moisture at harvest and storage, sugar levels in the hay, aeration and temperature can play a part in the likelihood of a fire occurring.

John Broster inspects his monitoring equipment while a haystack burns.

A spontaneous haystack fire can put crops, machinery and fencing at risk as well as impacting livelihoods and mental health. These factors are not quantified or modelled, leaving farmers to rely on decades old approaches such as testing with a crowbar to assess the risk.

On Tuesday 5 July, researchers successfully tested sensors to monitor changes in temperature in a controlled burn of a haystack.

Several haystacks across the Riverina will be individually monitored, and the data collected will be transmitted ultimately via Myriota developed satellite communication technology to a central monitoring and visualisation location. Here, the data will be modelled to recommend sensor configuration and placement in haystacks and generate timely alerts to farmers when their haystacks are at an increased chance of combustion.

The research team also looked at how to identify the critical indicators and process this data to send alerts through Myriota’s satellite communications system. This will allow for monitoring on properties that previously had low or no telecommunications coverage.

The research will help producers and farmers understand the health status of haystacks on their properties, enable data driven decision making and minimise the potential of spontaneous haystack fires.

The project is jointly funded by Food Agility, Charles Sturt and IAG, while Myriota will lead the development and integration of the communication technology.

Learn more about the haystack fire prevention project