Meet Ranch Systems

Why did you start Ranch Systems?

I spent most of my career in Silicon Valley, building wireless technology and software for large companies. At some point I wanted to get back to my roots, which is in agriculture (I grew up on a farm in Denmark). It just seemed obvious to me to combine my experience with best in breed wireless technology and software from Silicon Valley with my roots in farming. On top of that, I bought a farm here in California back in 2001 and it was immediately apparent that something was needed and I didn’t find anything that was good enough. Like so many engineers before me, I started a company.

What is the Ranch Systems mission?

Our mission is to use the best of breed technology to make the world a better place by helping farmers make better crops using less resources; especially water.

How do you see your current role at RS?

I’m primarily focused on building and improving our products. I think of myself as more of a CTO than CEO. My experience from Silicon Valley shows that the companies I admire the most are led by people with a strong technology vision, rather than those run with a focus on next quarter’s profit. That said, we also owe it to our customers to ensure our company is strong and profitable,so a good portion of my time is spent monitoring the business and financial side of things, making sure the “ship” is running solid.

What company accomplishments are you most proud of?

Our products. A tech company without great products doesn’t really exist in a meaningful way. So I’m proud of the maturity, sophistication and ruggedness of our products. Building hardware, especially, is much difficult more than software;the fact that we stand very tall in telemetry hardware in world-wide agriculture is something I’m very proud of. As for our software, I’m proud of the fact that we have built more than just a functional application, but also a rock-solid architecture beneath, which right now is carrying us forward to our next-gen UI with much less rework than would otherwise be necessary. The best proof of this is that we have started selling this platform to large players in agriculture for branding as their own.

What are the advantages of using Ranch Systems?

We take a farm wide view on telemetry, sensors, and control; similar to automation in factories in that it spans the entire factory. We can monitor the soil moisture and climate, we can control irrigation and pumps, and we can monitor equipment inside buildings (e.g. wine barrels and grain storage).

A lot of other technologies out there take a piecemeal view. The problem is that farmers purchase various technologies to improve their crops and they will end up with 5-10 systems that are completely separate. By having our farm wide view on monitoring and control, we really think we provide a unique benefit that you can only find with Ranch Systems.

What is your commitment to RS customers?

We are committed to building and supporting the best possible product for the job, and to delivering our product to you with quality and knowledgeable resellers/partners in your local market. Most of all, we are committed to being here in 10, 20 years. We don’t have an “exit strategy”, we have a “staying strategy!”

You’ve had many offers of investment and/or acquisition, why have you refused them?

Ranch Systems is my life’s work, and I’ve seen many promising companies go horribly astray when they were “put in play” in the financial markets. Besides, business growth in agriculture is slower than what most investors want or expect, so if you take outside money you will soon be dealing with an impatient board. That in turn will lead to shorter term decision making and loosing sight of our true “raison d’etre”; a road I don’t want to go down. In the end, I am a farmer before a businessman.

What is the direction of RS?

On the product side, we are building the next generation telemetry product (RS130) which is my #1 priority right now. It will reshape the market for what we do! On the business side, it will help in the next phase of growth, where we see our leadership in the California home market extending globally via our trusted reseller partners.

Where do you see Ranch Systems in 10 years?

We hope to be a global company involved with every professionally run farm in the world. Everywhere where farmers are serious about growing great crops with minimal resources; I would like to be a part of that.

Ranch Systems Introduces RX30 Weather Sensor Expansion Unit

Ranch Systems is now shipping the RX30 expansion unit worldwide. The RX30 is a “drop-in” expansion board that allows the Davis Vantage Pro series weather stations to connect directly to the Ranch Systems RS300 node, without the need for additional radios, batteries or solar panels typically provided as part of the Davis weather station. It enables Davis users to upgrade to the added functionality of Ranch Systems without having to replace their weather stations. It also enables Ranch Systems users to easily add a low cost weather station.

Read more: Newsletter

Migrating PureSense Stations to Ranch Systems

puresense conversion

Migration That Preserves Your Investment

For over two years Ranch Systems, a leading provider of monitoring and control solutions for growers, has been offering a bundle of products and services that quickly and painlessly migrates users of the PureSense Irrigation Manager to the RanchMaster integrated suite of solutions for vineyards, orchards and field crops. The recent shutdown of PureSense effectively strands customers with likely obsolete technology and without any credible means of ongoing support. Ranch Systems’ experience and proven methodology provides a viable alternative for growers to salvage their systems while saving money on their subscription fees.

This webinar will explain in detail all the ways that we can preserve a grower’s investment in hardware and data:

  • Step-by-step process
  • Importation of historical data
  • Case study of PureSense conversion (Zach Sheely, AZCAL Management)
  • Approximate costs of conversion
 This webinar will offered on the following dates & times:

Wednesday Jan. 21, 9AM
Wednesday Jan. 28, 9AM
Wednesday Feb. 5, 9AM

Register by clicking here:

2014 Season News

With the bulk of the 2014 season behind us (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), I wanted to give you a quick summary of our progress so far:


We knew 2014 was going to be an extraordinary year when sometime in May our 2014 revenue-to-date exceeded total 2013 revenues! Revenue-to-date still tracks more than double compared to 2013, indicating a significant acceleration of our growth which was already very good in prior years. We think this reflects that the technology is entering a steeper part of the adoption curve, as well as the fact that Ranch Systems is increasingly viewed as a market leader in agricultural monitoring and control.


For the 2014 selling season we introduced the RS300 product line, our most important new product development since our founding. It gave us numerous benefits, most visibly the ability to expand units via the expansion cards , but more subtly through greatly increased processor and memory capacity that will enable us to keep the RS300 as our core product for a decade to come, providing important product stability. Another key product development was the addition of MODBUS support for devices like VFDs, pump controllers and PLCs, setting us up as an even more comprehensive automation platform for agriculture – both in the field and inside production buildings. On the software side we introduced our new interactive graphing feature, providing a range of more modern ways to visualize data, and pointing the way to our 2.0 software under development.


We added 2500 sq ft of production space early in the season, with 1250 more sq. ft of office added just now in September. We are now 18 people, up from 12 a year ago, and we are continuing to hire in all areas. We have ambitious goals for both development, manufacturing and customer service and support for 2015 — and great people is the key to all these areas.

To all our customers, partners and resellers: thank you for your trust!
To those get to join the Ranch Systems family: we look forward to welcoming you!

Best Regards,
Jacob Christfort

Example of Tank Monitoring at Christfort Ranch

I wanted to share a screenshot from my own ranch’s water system (below). It’s a graph of the status of the water tank for the ranch main house. It tells me the water level, flow into the tank, plus I added a calculated “virtual” sensor showing total water pumped in last 24hrs. We get water from a spring with solar pumping.

Several interesting things I get from using this graph:

  • I can see the filling pattern from the solar pump daily. I can spot when it is doing less (overcast days), or not working at all
  • I can see overall production on 24hrs basis, which ideally is a reasonably flat graph
  • From the level graph I can see the effect of drawing water (mostly landscape irrigation)
  • You can see we are dealing with some piping leaks – that show up as slopes overnight on the water level graph. A few weeks ago the slope was less, but since yesterday it is bigger: we added a new section of piping, so we now know we have a large leak.
  • I have alerts set for low water level, and also for missing pumping at mid-day: all these go direct to me and the caretaker’s cell phone, so even when I’m not paying attention I know he is.
  • Finally, a text message is set up to go to my caretaker each morning at 8am with current level. Since he is not computer literate, this is a simple way for him to track this important status each day as he plans his day.

One of the big reasons for designing the RS technology was exactly this kind of scenario: being not always on site (and even if I were), I felt powerless to understand if my water system was working, and when not, what were the degree of the problem – and when I did fixes, whether they worked.  Now these answers are always at my fingertips, or rather my iPhone 🙂


Weekly Training and Support Webinars

Spring has well beyond sprung, and it’s a good time to start utilizing the online software to the fullest!

We have now started a weekly training webinar series to cover topics ranging from setting up the online system to getting the most of soil moisture data, they are held every  Monday afternoon at 4:00PM and Tuesday Morning at 10:00AM

The webinars are open to all Ranch Systems users and will have a loose organization following the topic requests of the users.  Please feel free to contact to suggest a topic or to request an invitation (if you haven’t already received one).

Server Upgrades

We are currently in the process of upgrading our server cloud.  The Spring season has brought an inflow of many new customers, which means that our infrastructure needs to grow with it.  We also recently suffered a disk crash from which we were able to recover, but not as gracefully and quickly as we wanted.

So we are underway implementing the following improvements:

  1. Additional, more powerful servers.  So far most of our customers were on the “augusta” server which is the one suffering the crash.  As part of recovery, data was moved to “gallica”  and “gemina” server. Soon “augusta” will be back up with the same high performance configuration as “gemina” while “gallica” will revert to being a standby for emergency.
  2. RAID5 redundancy on all disks.  All the new server will spread out data on 3 disks in parallel with full redundancy, using a scheme called RAID5. This means that future disk crashes will be invisible event to our users – disks will be hot-swapped as necessary when a failure is detected.
  3. New backup software which will constantly  move incremental changes from main server on to remote standby server, both in terms of database items as well as uploaded images file, such as camera images and real-time map picture. This software will enable us to very quickly activate a complete standby server in the case of future catastrophic crashes.

We’ll keep you posted!


Welcome to our new web site!

I’m delighted to welcome you to our new web site – result of months of development and content gathering. What I think is particularly exciting is the fact that it is designed as a much more “live” site with constant changes and blogs by our staff members – whereas our old site tended to be somewhat “static”. Please enjoy browsing, and never hesitate to send us some feedback or suggestions.

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