Water level sensor a 'game changer'

Mark Butler and Jesse Teat launched Tussock Innovation in 2013 with their water level sensor product called Waterwatch. A sensor takes real time readings of a water level and feeds the data to a cloud-based programme which its user can view from their sma
Mark Butler and Jesse Teat launched Tussock Innovation in 2013 with their water level sensor product called Waterwatch. A sensor takes real time readings of a water level and feeds the data to a cloud-based programme which its user can view from their smart phone or desktop computer anywhere in the world. Photo: Supplied
Tussock Innovation - just the name makes you want to sit up and take a closer look.

The company is owned by computer science and electronic expert duo Mark Butler and Jesse Teat.

Battling away with the blustery westerly wind at the Otago Field Days in Palmerston last week, Mr Butler decided a gazebo with no sides was a better option before he had no gazebo at all.

Mr Butler was displaying his company's product Waterwatch. A water level monitoring device which sends real-time data to a cloud-based application which its user can then read on a smart phone or desktop computer from anywhere in the world.

Its purpose opens up many uses and applications when it comes to monitoring water levels in the rural sector; from rivers and dams, to fertigation systems and water tank levels for livestock.

''It's been quite a game changer for some clients who before the sensors were installed were spending a lot of time and money physically driving to check tank levels.

''One client we have was doing a 100km daily round-trip to check the water level of a tank. He reckons the sensor paid for itself in the first week,'' Mr Butler said.

Tussock Innovation has been operating since 2013. Based in Crawford St, Dunedin, it has seven staff as well as partnerships with distribution companies nationwide.

The company also operates in Australia. A big contract installing sensors at Carwoola Station in New South Wales has got the company ''a foot in the door'' with Meat and Livestock Australia; a similar organisation to New Zealand's Beef and Lamb.

The technology to monitor water levels was becoming a lot more accessible and gave small communities reliant on water levels of local rivers or dams the ability to make important decisions based on information they had never before had access to, he said.

''The set up costs for traditional water monitoring stations is in the tens of thousands. The technology available now is a lot cheaper, quick to install and sends accurate real-time data straight back to the application user.''

Mr Butler says the uptake of smart phones by the general population has been a vital shift in human behaviour which has seen the company grow rapidly.

''It always surprises me when I'm approached by a farmer who I think perhaps won't be interested in new technology. Often they turn out to be the ones most savvy when it comes to getting their heads around it all and embracing the digital technology available these days.''

-By Alice Scott

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