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Automated Fuel Moisture Sensors

Remote monitoring of moisture levels on the forest floor

Burnt grass after a fire

BACKGROUND

Existing fuel management practice involves the use of manual measurements and observations in the field. This system uses specially designed ‘Hazard Sticks’, or kiln-dried wooden sticks of an exact weight that are placed in the field to absorb moisture. The weight of the sticks is manually measured during field inspections to provide a prediction of when a site may be suitable to conduct a burn. Various sticks are installed within a given coupe and the surrounding forest to give a picture of the variance of moisture levels. 

Due to several challenges experienced with manual methods of observation, the goal of this project was to develop a system for remote monitoring of in-field moisture levels that increased the accuracy of moisture readings and burn window predictions and reduced monitoring costs and risk of injury for forest personnel.

Burnt grass after a fire

CHALLENGES

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Due to the remote locations of managed forestry areas, manual inspections of the hazard sticks are very labour intensive and costly - involving significant time in the field both travelling and undertaking site inspections. 

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The remote and uneven terrian in many forestry coupes means that frequent manual inspection during the fire season presents an increased risk of injury to forest managers in the field.

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Manual observations provide data for a static point in time, and do not allow for monitoring of the fuel moisture levels over longer timeframes. This presents a signficant cost to forest managers who may need to undertake frequent trips to undertake manual measurements.

Failed burning icon

Spcaing between manual observations may mean that identification of ideal burn conditions are missed, increasing the fire risk due to less prescribed burning taking place in preparation for the bushfire season.

SOLUTION

Fuel Moisture Diagram

To collect this data, Indicium deployed a customised IoT-based Fuel Moisture Sensor. The device utilises a solar-powered remote telemetry unit connected to a Fuel Moisture Probe that communicates over Indicium's LoRaWAN network.

The Fuel Moisture Sensors were deployed alongside Hazard Sticks to measure the accuracy of an IoT deployment against manual methods. A weather station was also deployed nearby to collect localised environmental data.

The combined data is displayed for users on a centralised INDICIUM dashboard, which allows for customisation in the analysis and presentation of fuel moisture data.

The trial determined that the fuel moisture probes successfully record accurate fuel moisture data when compared to manual observation methods. 

Indicium Fuel Moisture Sensor in field
burnt grass after a fire

PROJECT BENEFITS

Use of Fuel Moisture Sensors improve the accuracy of measurement through precision instrumentation, strengthening the ability to make effective decisions in fire management.

ACCURATE DATA

The solution reduces OH&S risks by removing the need for manual field measurements, reducing the time spent by foresters in remote and uneven terrain.

REDUCTION OF SAFETY RISKS

Data collected by the probes are integrated into the INDICIUM Stack, which provides users easy access to real-time field data. The Platform allows for the simplification of planning and execution by automating integration with associated systems and stakeholders.

AUTOMATED INTEGRATION

The ability to remotely access forest floor data means that personnel can focus their efforts and time into other forest management activities. This ensures optimal deployment of human resources, avoiding lost productivity due to large amounts of time spent in the field.

OPTIMISED RESOURCE ALLOCATION

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