Deployment of a LoRa-WAN near-real-time precision ranching system on extensive desert rangelands: What we have learned

Matthew McIntosh*, Andres Cibils, Shelemia Nyamuryekung'e, Richard Estell, Andrew Cox, JP Holland, Danielle Duni, Qixu Gong, A. Waterhouse, Huiping Cao, Laura Boucheron, Huiying Chen, Sheri Spiegal, Glen Duff, Santiago Utsumi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/Report/Policy Brief/Technical BriefTechnical brief

2 Citations (Scopus)
49 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: Precision livestock farming technologies show great promise for the management of extensive, arid rangelands, but more practical knowledge is needed to allow ranchers to determine potential applications and limitations for adoption. We tested a long-range wide area network (LoRa-WAN) precision livestock system over 3 mo (April–June 2020) in a ranch in southwest New Mex- ico, USA. The system monitors cattle position and move- ments, precipitation, and water trough water levels at pas- ture and ranch scales, in real time. Materials and Methods: Here we describe the com- ponents of the system and share what we have learned from our preliminary experiences. This system included a solar-power LoRa-WAN receiving station with the cor- responding gateway, radio frequency antenna (824–894 MHz), and Wi-Fi bridge for data transmission into the Internet. The testbed network for testing LoRa-WAN sen- sors included 43 GPS-trackers deployed on lactating beef cows and 2 environmental sensors used to monitor precipi- tation regimens and trough water levels, respectively. Results and Discussion: The system collected data consistently for the trough levels and precipitation, where- as data from the cow GPS-trackers was highly heteroge- neous. On average, 46 ± 4% of daily data packets logged by GPS-trackers were successfully transmitted through the LoRa-WAN system, exceeding 80% of successful trans- mission in several cases. This report documents the neces- sary infrastructure, performance, and maintenance of sys- tem components, which could be of significant information value to ranchers and researchers with a desire to deploy similar monitoring systems. Implications and Applications: This Technical Note documents the implemetation of a LoRa-WAN monitoring system at the ranch scale for a 3-mo period. The system has allowed the ranch manager and assisting staff to ef- ficiently manage cattle inventories and promptly address animal welfare concerns. However, further research is re- quired to assess the scalability of this system across com- mercial operating cattle ranches in the Southwest United States, thereby unlocking its potential for broader adop- tion and effect.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Publication statusPrint publication - Oct 2023

Publication series

NameApplied Animal Science
PublisherElsevier Inc.
ISSN (Print)2590-2873


  • precision livestock farming, precision grazing management, digital agriculture, beef cattle, GPS tracking, rain gauge sensor, water level sensor
  • precision livestock farming
  • beef cattle
  • rain gauge sensor
  • water level sensor
  • GPS track- ing
  • precision grazing management
  • digital agriculture


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