Creative solution brings remote farm online after 40 days feeding lost due to bad weather

Editorial Staff

One of Scottish Sea Farms’ most far-flung farms can now feed remotely for the first time, thanks to the help of their IT and engineering colleagues, a community internet provider and a local landowner.

Wyre, in Orkney, is the company’s second most remote Orkney farm, after nearby Eday, and had among the highest lost feeding days, resulting in slower growth of the fish and reduced margins for the business.

Previous attempts to connect the farm to the mainland feeding centre and enable fish to be fed during bad weather had not been successful. But Scottish Sea Farms’ in-house IT team have devised a solution that brings Wyre in line with the rest of the Orkney estate.

Masterminded by IT Operations and Infrastructure Lead Colin Kupris, the set- up involves a comms hub on Wyre island that bounces signals via two relay points to Kirkwall, from where remote feeding is controlled.

“We tried in the past to connect the Wyre feed barge to the Shapinsay mast, which is 8-10km away, but it didn’t work out as hoped,” said Kupris.

“This time, with the agreement of a local landowner, we made the connection as short as possible by installing a cabinet in a field on the island, with an antenna facing out to the barge. It doesn’t look like much but it was six months’ work and includes a couple of great big car batteries so it can carry on working for two days if there is a power cut. The engineers in Orkney did a lot of the heavy work for us, pulling a power cable half a kilometre through the field on Wyre.”

To provide another link from the Wyre relay site to beam the signal back to Kirkwall, the IT team placed a second antenna on Hammars Hill wind farm, on the mainland to the west of Wyre, with assistance from Cloudnet, the key communications supplier in Orkney.

They also then had to put in a third link, from the wind farm to Keelylang Hill, from where BT has installed a fibre connection to the Kirkwall base.

Wyre Farm Manager James Lennie said the IT team had come up with a solution that would be good for the farm and for the fish.

“Often, the best places to grow fish can be the hardest places to operate the technology. Wyre is known for producing big, healthy fish but during the last generation, for example, around 40 days feeding were lost due to bad weather, he said.”

“Autumn 2023 was particularly challenging with as many as two feeding days lost a week but thanks to the new system we’re now able to feed every day. ‘As the company continues to move to higher energy, more exposed and more remote locations for better biology, we’re going to have to rise to exactly these kinds of challenges as a team.’


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