Courteenhall Farms in south Northamptonshire is a progressive arable operation stretching across 850ha where the main crops farmed in rotation include winter wheat, oil seed rape and pulses. The farming operation is part of the wider Courteenhall Estate, which includes a Georgian Hall built in 1792 and arboretum. The estate also offers residential and commercial properties for rent, while the house and grounds are available for filming and photoshoots and for weddings and events.

The Challenge

The farming operation was keen to implement a robust, good quality, reliable two-way communications solution. But the big challenge was to find a wide area network solution that would provide consistent radio communications across the huge 850ha estate.

The farm estate management had considered and understood the financial benefits of using new digital two-way radios over other cost options, such as cellular mobile telephony. But even so, they were still concerned that two-way radios would not work over the huge expanse of Northamptonshire that their farm, fields and paddocks occupied.

Arable operations manager Marcus got in touch with Hytera partner Radio Links Communications to see if they could help. To give the farm confidence in what a two-way radio solution could do, Radio Links suggested a free of charge loan and installation of a Hytera Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) repeater base station and a few DMR mobile radios. They left the equipment with Marcus so he could carry out his own radio coverage checks.

The DMR radios quickly proved themselves by providing crystal clear two-way voice communications out to all areas of the farmland. After just a couple of days of trialling the radios it became obvious to Marcus that digital two-way radios were the best and most cost effective solution for providing instant and reliable two-way communications across the Courteenhall farms estate.

The Solution

Courteenhall placed an order with Radio Links for a DMR two-way radio system comprising an RD625 repeater base station, a number of new MD615 vehicle mobile radios for installation in a variety of agricultural vehicles, along with a number of the extremely rugged PD665 handportable radios.

The RD625 base station is a compact, wall-mountable DMR repeater, which is easy to install and manage. The MD615 vehicle-mounted mobile radio features a handheld microphone, a visible and easily accessible orange emergency button, a powerful in-built speaker, a two digital LED display and five programmable buttons. It can also provide GPS location services if required.

The PD665 handportable radio is a slim (just 27mm thick and 310g) high quality device, rated IP67 for dust and water resistance, making it highly suitable for a farm environment. It has a 16-hour battery life suitable for long days in the fields, while emergency mode, priority interrupt and lone worker features are provided as standard.

Radio Links chief engineer Bill then had an enjoyable day on the farm installing and commissioning vehicle radios in what are commonly referred to as “Big Boys Toys". The beauty of the DMR solution is that it gives Courtenhall Farms complete control over their own private communications network. There is no need for the ongoing airtime costs and associated contracts they would have had if they had opted for mobile phones.

The Results

A couple days after the installation, operations manager commented: “We decided to go with Radio Links Communications for the communication across Courteenhall Farms because of their expert knowledge in this field and the outstanding service that they provided to us. We have a challenging area to cover with much of the estate in woodland surrounded by the arable farms.

"We required good reception throughout the estate, ensuring that staff can always contact someone at a push of a button, whether they are working in the woods or out on the farm. The range from the base station has been fantastic by enabling clear connection on all of our contract farms, and our new Hytera radios are performing well by providing us with reliable, crystal clear sound.”

Courteenhall Farm, Operations Manager
Courteenhall Farm, UK
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23 September 2020

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