Blog / Tracking Farm Equipment in Southern Africa

Tracking Farm Equipment in Southern Africa

Farmers around the globe have recognised the value of satellite-enabled tracking to monitor their livestock. But solutions that leverage the Internet of Things as well as highly reliable and ubiquitous Globalstar satcoms can offer even more to farmers.
Richardt Venter is an international agricultural consultant, specialising in the management of silage. He is the southern African distributor of market-leading silage bagging machines from German manufacturer BAG Budissa Agroservice GmbH.
Farmers harvest, store and ferment silage as an important part of their year-round livestock feeding schedule. Silage starts out as grass or other plants like maize (corn) in fields that haven’t been grazed to allow the grass to grow or planted specifically for the purpose of silage production. The plants are cut, bagged and stored at a time when it contains its highest nutrient levels. So silage harvesting is a time-sensitive activity. It needs to take place at the correct time of year and in favorable weather conditions.
Venters’s customers are farmers located all over sub-Saharan Africa. In early 2024 alone, he is sending machines to customers in Zambia, Namibia and Tanzania.
He was looking for a solution that would enable the tracking of these high value bagging machines. Venter was introduced to GSatSolar by Globalstar Value Added Reseller, Johannesburg-based Wintec Solutions, a specialist technology and solutions provider.
GSatSolar™ fulfils the need for a small, rugged, reliable tracking device
GSatSolar™ is the newest addition to Globalstar’s portfolio of industrial IoT asset tracking solutions. Offered in partnership with Global Satellite Engineering, GSatSolar is a small, rugged, low-cost device that enables reliable tracking of assets in near real time.
GSatSolar is highly durable, heat and cold resistant. Its compact size makes it viable with several flexible mounting options to fit needs across various enterprise industrial applications. GSatSolar is also suitable for animal tracking, including monitoring of livestock and of wildlife for conservation purposes.
With its solar panel and internal battery, this is an ultra-low maintenance solution that will operate for years without a battery change.
The large machines Venter sells are tractor driven; they don't have engines or batteries to connect devices to, and therefore Venter need a tracking solution with minimal energy requirements.
Additionally, because the machines are used outdoors, the tracking devices needed to be robust, and able to withstand all weather conditions.
Delivering value to farmers
Venter is installing GSatSolar devices on all of the machines which he sells and leases. Tagging new machines throughout their warranty period means that if called out by a farmer to inspect, repair or maintain a machine, Venter knows precisely where to go. This is particularly useful on the sprawling farmsteads typical of the region. “Because I always know the GPS coordinates, I can send my engineer to the correct location; this helps ensure that we can rapidly get the machine back in action and doing its job for the farmer,” he says.
“Being able to promptly manage and service machines, thanks to satellite-enabled tracking and positioning, actually adds value to the proposition for the farmer,” he adds.
Informative user interface
The bagging machines are slow moving as they traverse farmland. In a day they move only 100 to 300 metres as the farmer fills silage bags, preparing off-season animal feed. The GSatSolar system monitors and displays the machines’ locations at pre-set times during the day. “The GSatSolar user interface is really informative; I can see exactly where the farmer is working,” says Venter. 
The application shows on a map exactly where the machines are operating, and also, says Venter, when they are safely parked for the season. “So even when the system is not sending a signal it's providing useful information about where and when the machinery is being used.”
Why choose GSatSolar? Says Venter: “GSatSolar ticked all the boxes; I needed an affordable device that was small, with a compact profile, completely solar-driven, and I wanted flexibility in configuring the system for monitoring these items of heavy equipment.”