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Farm CCTV for bio-security

A multi-site chicken farm sought a new approach for monitoring sheds and ensuring bio-security. Woodhouse Fields Farm worked with rural security installer Agri-CCTV, and used Hikvision Wi-Fi surveillance to address the dispersed nature of the chicken-rearing facilities – and is trialling the use of thermal cameras as a security measure.

Woodhouse Fields in Shrewsbury has around 1500 acres of arable land and nine poultry sheds. Corve Poultry Ltd owner-operator Jonathan Benbow was looking for a means of monitoring his poultry sheds to ensure operational efficiency and bio-security. He approached the specialist agricultural security and surveillance installer Agri-CCTV Ltd, founded in 2010. To date James Anstis-Smith and Agri-CCTV have fitted systems at over 600 and commercial properties across the UK and France.

Anstis-Smith said in this case that Agri-CCTV was asked to provide a system that delivered video images from inside each poultry shed, to allow for the animals to be monitored remotely. The main challenge that had to be tackled was the distance between the farm’s two main sites, which are nearly one kilometre apart.

Anstis-Smith said: “As a result of this distance between the sites, we couldn’t use standard cabling. We had to approach the problem from a different perspective. So we worked with Hikvision to develop a Wi-Fi-based solution, which would link-up each shed across the whole site.”

The CCTV gave other advantages than the video images, though – the expansion of Wi-Fi across the site has also allowed Woodhouse Fields Farm to improve its on-site communications. Anstis-Smith says: “Along with the primary network, we also provided a second layer of networking, installing a Wi-Fi access point in every other shed. This serves an important function: allowing the user to have multiple access points across the site, and providing uninterrupted Wi-Fi calling and internet connectivity across the whole site as they work, without interruption to surveillance footage.

“Because the sheds are steel-clad, they don’t allow for mobile phone signal reception. With this Wi-Fi connectivity, they are able to make internet-based calls in a mobile-unfriendly environment. This has proven to be of immense benefit to the farm staff in helping with operational communications.”

The site installation was planned to allow for the addition of components or the upgrade of equipment without having an impact on the primary infrastructure; future-proofing which will mean that there is no interruption in the farm’s productivity if those changes need to be made.

Agri-CCTV installed Hikvision cameras in all nine of the farm’s poultry sheds, for the monitoring of poultry growing, feeding, welfare and to ensure that their strict bio-security standards are adhered to. The cameras selected for these internal monitoring roles were 4MP HD EXIR models. Hikvision’s EXIR cameras have built-in LEDs housed in a separate window to the camera lens, and use Hikvision’s patented EXIR. That allows for better infrared coverage than traditional IR arrays, the product firm says, and eliminates internal infrared reflection and image bleeding. A further EXIR camera was installed in the farm’s boiler room for monitoring of the machinery and the safety of the room’s lone worker.

Four external cameras monitor the site; these are also EXIR models with 80m infrared range, with no additional external illumination required. Images from are recorded to a Hikvision 16-channel network video recorder, with an 8TB hard drive.

Anstis-Smith said: “In order to connect the two sites, we used Deliberant point-to-point networking equipment, which allows for multi-site connectivity and for the extension of internet access across the property. Then for the access points, we used equipment from Ubiquiti Networks.”

Thermal

Agri-CCTV and Woodhouse Fields Farm are trialling a new Hikvision thermal camera to see if this relatively new technology is a good fit for rural and remote applications. Anstis-Smith says: “The CCTV industry is always evolving, and at Agri-CCTV we’re keen to increase our knowledge and adapt to new technology developments. One of these is certainly the emergence of the use of thermal imaging for a much wider scope of applications than its previous very high-end uses. We believe that in a comparatively short space of time thermal imaging will become a commonplace system to install, partly because of the wide spectrum of imaging it can cover in both day and night mode, and also because pioneers like Hikvision are introducing cost-effective models that are suitable for a range of uses.”

Thermal imaging for CCTV means that no lighting is required: the camera can pick up heat sources and associated movements at long distances, at night, and in all kinds of weather conditions. This makes it ideal for more remote security-sensitive locations.

Anstis-Smith says: “We’re looking at utilising thermal technology in the long range security of solar farms, as well as for farms where bio-security is key and at other food production sites. We anticipate that the use of thermal technology will increase in demand and potentially become a requirement for these kinds of sites as security for food producers grows ever more stringent.”

At Woodhouse Fields, the trial will use a single camera to judge whether it has the potential to be used in place of a number conventional CCTV cameras.

Anstis-Smith says: “We shall be positioning the system high in a centralised position, allowing full 360 degree coverage of the farm and its surrounding access points. With the thermal detection range extending as far as one mile, we believe just this one individual camera, if used correctly, can take over the role which would normally require the deployment of several key cameras. This in turn will lower capital expenditure and operational expenditure costs.”

The thermal camera model being trialled is Hikvision’s DS-2TD4035D-25, which is a dual-function thermal and optical network speed dome. Agri-CCTV will measure the thermal camera against a standard Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) IR-equipped night vision camera.

Anstis-Smith says: “The equipment is utilised on a daily basis for the monitoring of chicken production and welfare. The system is particularly useful when it comes to the monitoring of feed deliveries on-site, ensuring that they are operating correctly, and according to the strictly maintained bio-security standards Woodhouse Fields Farm has in place.”

The Wi-Fi-based system installed by Agri-CCTV provides Jonathan Benbow and the Woodhouse Fields Farm staff with the ability to monitor their CCTV images from anywhere on-site – anywhere with an internet connection, in fact. And they now have the added bonus of an internet access point in their top site office, where none previously existed, allowing for further connectivity and enhanced opportunities to keep tabs on day-to-day operations and welfare – a crucial aspect of the farm’s daily activities.

Benbow says: “I’m extremely happy with the images we get from the Hikvision cameras. They’re clear, effective – even though they are transmitted by WiFI – and also very useful for us. I wouldn’t be without the system now.”


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