RanchMaster, designed and manufactured by Ranch Systems in Northern California, is a modular suite of six field monitoring and control solutions residing on a versatile hardware and software “platform.” A grower has the flexibility to start with a single solution, like Weather & Climate, and add functionality over time. For example, Soil Moisture Tracking can be added later, then be combined with Valve Control to completely automate irrigation at some point in the future. Each individual solution is integrated into an easy-to-use, but sophisticated software application and can be turned on at any point.
The RanchMaster Software, or brains of the system, resides remotely on a secure computer in a data center in the cloud. The data center is 100% reliable and secure, enabling the application to be available anytime and anywhere. Field information is accessed on-line through a browser on a computer or a mobile network via tablet or smartphone. The software typically receives data and sends commands over the internet and a cellular or WiFi connection to a RanchMaster advanced wireless network located in the field. The software interface consists of fourteen tabs that correspond to the different functions required by each solution (e.g. Irrigation Schedules). The software is intuitive and quickly learned with minimal training and can be easily configured to a grower's unique set of zones, blocks, equipment, etc.
The innovative RanchMaster Hardware architecture consists of various wireless communication, control and sensor building blocks that are quickly configured to the specific requirements of a grower’s layout and operations. They are designed for outdoor agricultural applications and create an economical mesh-type network where only one cellular or WiFi connection is required. RanchMaster Hardware is an open-architecture system that can be expanded, reconfigured and upgraded as needed. It is compatible with a wide range of standard industry sensors and interfaces as well as higher level farm management applications.
RanchMaster is a proven technology solution. Since 2003, over 400 growers have successfully implemented it in their vineyards, orchards and fields.
RanchMaster includes complete weather stations that provide accurate, continuous, real-time recording of temperature, relative humidity, wind, rain, solar radiation and leaf wetness. Its built-in analytical features include disease indices, degree days, chill portions and wet bulb. The Weather & Climate module is typically combined with the Alerting module to instantly notify growers of dangerous weather conditions.
RanchMaster offers an effective and reliable way to measure soil moisture continuously and in real-time at multiple levels and at several points in a property. The data can be used to schedule irrigation in conjunction with Irrigation Control and/or trigger alerts on critical moisture levels. It can be viewed as time graph or color-coded soil water profile. The data can also be combined with climate and water resource information to create an even more intelligent basis for irrigation and alerting.
RanchMaster can open and close valves to schedule while monitoring pressure and/or flow to ensure proper irrigation. This module seamlessly integrates with Soil Moisture, Climate & Weather and Tank & Pond (for total irrigation management), Alerting (for quick problem detection), and Remote Cameras (for observation of crops and field work). It can also be used to turn on or off electrical and engine-driven pumps as well as automate frost protection and cooling systems.
Irrigation Valve Control — Engine Control — Pump Control
RanchMaster can monitor the level of tanks, ponds, wells and many other types of liquid storage, including fuel and fertilizer. Fluid level data is gathered by either submersible pressure sensors or ultra-sonic sensors located above the liquid. The software calculates volume based on tank/pond geometry. Charts and graphs allow comparison over time. Alerts can be set to any number of conditions; it is even possible to have alerts that automatically activate a shutoff valve or sound an alarm horn.
RanchMaster also has remote observation capabilities. As opposed to the common web-cams, which continuously stream video, RanchMaster Remote Cameras record still-images at intervals of 15 minutes or 1 hour and economically transmit them to the online software, where they can be viewed in real-time or historically. Cameras can also be activated by a sensory event like a motion detector being triggered. Also, a feed of images can be sent to a grower’s website for marketing purposes.
The Alerting module enables early detection of problematic conditions. Alert conditions and recipients are defined by growers and can be based on any type of collected data. Rules for triggering alerts can be as simple as “<38” for frost alert or complex calculated formulas. Delivery can be by email, text message or phone. Alerts can be configured to repeatedly call multiple recipients until at least one recipient acknowledges the alert.