The first automated biodiversity monitoring prototype is installed at Challa Station

developing Automated technology to assess natural capital

A bungarra inspects the weather station before it is installed

Thanks to an agtech innovation grant from the south west drought hub, Challa Station and AxisTech, through the Southern Rangelands Pastoral Alliance, are developing technology that will automate the measurement of biodiversity in the rangelands. Stage one of the project is to install static monitoring sites that provide weather, soil and carbon data as well as provide regular photographs that will provide a unique window into life here at Challa. 

Four monitoring sites have been installed and the team are currently working to establish the best options for connectivity for the remote camera feeds. They are testing the efficacy of LTE-M, point to point wifi and satellite connectivity to determine the most efficient and reliable method to transfer the data. 

Data generated from the installed devices is being transmitted through the AxisStream platform and run through machine learning tools to develop the potential of plant species identification. In addition, twenty years of historical plant monitoring data has been uploaded. Four SensorC carbon probes have been installed, enabling the team to determine its potential to accurately measure soil carbon remotely across the rangelands.

The level of biodiversity at Challa is remarkable, from the air to the land, to the water, and even under the ground. This healthy ecosystem supports many native species - some you can see - and some that you would never even dream could exist.  Dozens of different mammals live here, and a hundred and twenty species of birds have been identified at Challa within the last two years. Reptiles, insects and water creatures remain somewhat undiscovered. But the greatest mysteries live just below the surface. We are learning more about our soil biology and we know that a whole new ecosystem exists under the ground.  Unique stygofauna have been identified in our calcrete aquifers and who knows what else is out there?

There is so mush we have to learn about this precious wilderness landscape and developing automated technology to help with this will make the job a whole lot easier.