Environmental Monitoring in an Emu Farm
Date Published: July 31, 2012
Automated Monitoring Solution Logs Almost Any Signal
Recently CAS DataLoggers provided the comprehensive environmental monitoring system for a large emu farm’s animal husbandry project. The farm’s male emus were devoted parents, incubating their partners’ eggs. Given that they neither ate nor drank while on duty, their owners needed to know if they were developing any health risks during this dedicated eight-week fast. A clutch of 9-11 eggs were laid over approximately 27-30 days, and since incubation often began before the last couple of eggs were laid, these last-laid eggs needed to develop 3-6 days faster than the others. In order to accurately temperature profile the incubation process, the owners required accurate data from 54 recording channels and easy connection with a computer. For this ambitious application, the farm needed a flexible monitoring system which could measure temperature, humidity, and many other parameters and connect to thermocouples, RTDs, for high-accuracy recordings. This device would also need to include user-friendly software for quick configuration and analysis.
The owners connected a dataTaker DT80 Intelligent Universal Data Logger to 2 dataTaker CEM20 Channel Expansion Modules, each module multiplexing 20 universal input channels to the dataTaker’s own 15 analog channels. The stand-alone system was then protected within a bolted-down case inside the emu enclosure. With the system in place, the farm’s male emus were then anaesthetized and implanted with miniature radio transmitters monitoring both their temperature and heart rate. One egg in their clutch was also fitted with a transmitter continuously recording incubation temperature. A radio receiver connected to the dataTaker data logger picked up radio signals from the transmitters. All environmental conditions were logged simultaneously at a set interval, and the owners downloaded all data to a computer via USB stick every 8 hours.
Voltage inputs were used to measure solar radiation and total radiation, current inputs for temperature and heart rate, and type ‘T’ thermocouples recording air and dew point temperatures, along with humidity sensors. A high-speed counter channel was coupled with the square-wave voltage output from a cup anemometer to directly sum the number of revolutions per recording period, providing a convenient way of measuring wind speed. A voltage output channel pulsed the radio receiver each minute, switching it to receive data from the next transmitter.
Showing updated readings on its built-in display, the battery-operated dataTaker logged 18-bit resolution measurements at a ±30 V input measurement range, with a simple operation allowing operators to group sampling, logging, alarm and control tasks within schedules as needed. It was equally simple to manage all the data stored in user-defined memory and users also had the choice to overwrite or stop logging once the 10 million-data point memory was full.
Users were able to easily work with dataTaker's dEX graphical interface, included free with the datalogger. The dEX software featured a built-in Windows Explorer-style interface which enabled a fast setup and logger configuration. The dEX software was configured and ran directly from a web browser, accessible either locally or remotely over the Internet.
The emu farm’s animal husbandry project needs were all met by the dataTaker DT80 system. This single solution was able to connect to humidity, temperature, and every other sensor required, proving both cost-effective and convenient to use. Furthermore, the channel expansion modules increased the analog channel total so that all the data could be captured. Once recorded, the data was easily retrieved via the data logger’s USB memory stick port which was a quick method for easy data and program transfer, and the data was then transferred to an office PC where the different types of environmental information were analyzed using the included dEX software. As a result, the animal and egg temperatures, as well as the environmental factors influencing them, were all sampled at high accuracy and subsequently analyzed to determine the best way to keep the emus healthy during egg incubation.
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