Automated Fuel Moisture Sensors
Sustainable Timber Tasmania
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 are 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 coup and the surrounding forest to give a picture of the variance of moisture levels. This process is very labour intensive, involving significant in-field time (travel and site inspections) and represents increased risk to workers due to the potentially challenging and remote terrain associated with the sites. The need, therefore, 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.
To achieve the monitoring outcomes above, the following data needs were identified:
Data needed to accurately identify the fuel moisture content in the forest deployment area
Devices needed to collect regular time-series data, displayed in real-time
Users needed to be able to easily and quickly compare data from Fuel Moisture sensors, Hazard Sicks and relevant weather, in order to make timely decisions about the suitability of forest fuel reduction burning
To collect this data, Indicium deployed an 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 in order 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 solution reduces OH&S risks by removing the need for manual field measurements, reducing the time spent by foresters in remote and uneven terrain
Use of Fuel Moisture Sensors improve the accuracy of measurement through precision instrumentation, strengthening the ability to make effective decisions in fire management
Data collected by the probes are integrated into the INDICIUM Platform, 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
Accurate assessments of fuel moisture content can help fire managers predict fire behavior and make decisions about suppression strategies, which can increase safety for firefighters and communities at risk of wildfires.
Awards and recognition
The creation of the Fuel Moisture Sensor falls within a suite of Digital Forest products developed in partnership with Sustainable Timber Tasmania (STT).
The innovative nature of these projects was recently recognised, with STT and Indicium Dynamics receiving a joint award for Innovation in Forest Practices at the Forest Practices Awards 2022.