‘Internet of things’ helps Hebrides peatland

SENSORS connected to the “internet of things” (IoT) are helping to monitor the health of peatlands in the Western Isles.

The year-long trial is measuring the water content of the peat surrounding Loch Orasaigh on Lewis.

Normally, people need to walk to remote monitoring stations to measure the water content, and so the sensors should save time and money.

They will also provide data in real-time to reveal the impact of conservation work to improve peatlands and trap more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Andrew Muir, chief executive at technology company FarrPoint, which is working on the project, said: “Scotland’s peatlands are one of our key natural resources in the fight against rising carbon emissions and we must make efforts to protect them.

“When in good condition, our peatlands offer multiple benefits to the environment and our communities.

“With 80% of Scotland’s peatlands damaged, projects such as this can help us fight climate change and support biodiversity.”

Muir added: “Digital technologies will become central to our ability to limit the damage of climate change and hit our net-zero targets.

“This summer’s drought has shown how vulnerable the UK is to extreme heat and this trial will provide valuable and timely data [that] will help inform future peatland restoration activities.

“Connecting remote and rural areas with digital technologies can be extremely challenging, and whilst benefits have been shown for larger cities, this trial will create key [lessons] that can be applied to other remote regions of Scotland and Europe.”

The IoT is made up of devices connected to the internet, usually using similar types of subscriber identification module (SIM) cards to the ones found in mobile phones.

Smart electricity and gas meters are among the most common examples of IoT-connected devices, but some homes already have their central heating thermostats, fridges, and even washing machines connected to the internet, so they can be controlled remotely.

Read more stories on Scottish Field’s wildlife pages.

Plus, don’t miss Keith Kingland’s Arctic tern article in the October’s luxury issue of Scottish Field magazine.