Case Study: Stockman’s Water & Energy

Ranch Systems and Stockman’s Water & Energy team-up on state-of-the-art water management system for cattle ranch

Location: San Miguel, California

Crop Grown: 3702 Acres to raise 225 head of cattle and 10 horses

Solutions: Tank level monitoring, deep well monitoring, flow monitoring, emergency shut- off valve control, pump control, weather and climate monitoring

“Stockman’s delivered turkey the advanced monitoring and control solution that met my exact requirements. They not only incorporated Ranch Systems telemetry and sensors, but also custom engineered and installed motor operated emergency shut-off valves. “ 

John Ligon, Owner




Vineyard Mountain Ranch is a working cattle and guest ranch with an extensive water system for domestic and livestock use. It consists of 3 pumps, 12 tank locations, 17 tanks, 19 water troughs, and over 8 miles of piping. The system occasionally fails to deliver water to the main or other houses due to broke popes, stuck float valves in the tanks or in the troughs. Because the system works on gravity flow, when a float valve in a tank sticks or a pipe breaks, 45,000 gallons of water can empty very quickly, leaving no water for the homes or the livestock. When a trough float valve sticks, many thousands of gallons are lost before someone happens to see the water spilling over while driving the ranch. Thus, with no monitoring, problems are detected only when the ranch runs out of domestic water at the houses or when a ranch hand checking on livestock and conditions spots a wet area caused by broken pipes or a stuck float. The owner of the ranch wanted to only ensure that they do not run out of water, but also to conserve and use wisely their limited water resource. These goals demanded a remote monitoring and control solution that was accurate, easy to use, and provided real time alerts when attention was needed.


A mesh style wireless network infrastructure was created that provided communication to the various tank, pump, and well locations, Due to the rugged terrain and remote location the ranch, two RM210 base stations were set-up as gateway on high point locations and utilized directional antennas to reliably pick up cellular signals from a tower about 20 miles away. The base stations were located at tank locations so they could double as monitoring and control stations; measuring tank level and controlling an emergency shut-off valve via RX300 expansion units. RS300 radio nodes were installed at other tank locations where they monitored level and controlled emergency shut-off valves. In addition, odes were placed at well sites where they monitored well levels, flow, and provided the ability to turn pumps on and off through a relay contact switch. The most unique feature of the system is the motor operated valves (MOV) used for emergency shut-off. High perssure from the thanks precluded using common DC latching solenoid valves. Instead, an MOV system was designed that had its own solar panel and battery to provide the power needed to open and close the valves. Stockman’s Water and Energy implemented the first instance of a MOV being controlled by Ranch Systems telemetry.

Once the system was built, sophisticated alerts using mathematical formulas were developed. These measured the rate and compared it to a baseline. Alerts were only sent if the rate exceeded normal use. Similar alerts were created to activate the MOV and close the outlet valves in an emergency shut-off procedure.


The combination of monitoring and closed loop control automated the water supply system at Vineyard Mountain Ranch. In addition, the system gives the ranch the capability to generate in-depth reports on ground water production, usage, and performance; which may be required by the County in the near future.