As the value of grain, livestock and machinery continues to climb, driving down the farmstead driveway and noticing that something is amiss is getting scarier than ever.

Recent advances in video surveillance systems may help set your mind at ease. New Internet-capable video cameras allow you to monitor your farm in real time via a smartphone or computer. Many can be set up to send text or email alerts when they detect motion, giving you a heads-up to check the live video stream in time to take action. With the right software and cameras trained properly, some are even capable of recognizing license plates.

The new video systems won’t break the bank compared to costs just a few years ago. Depending on existing Internet connectivity on your farm, a rudimentary system can be put in place for a few hundred dollars.

“Depending on the installation, a professional-grade system with up to five cameras plus software might be in the several thousand-dollar range,” much less than just a few years ago, says Micah Carlson, marketing director for Dakota Security Systems, a security and communications systems provider for a wide range of businesses, including agriculture.

More complex systems can cost much more, especially if building a wireless Internet infrastructure is
required. “The beauty of Internet protocol [digital] video is that it is scalable,” Carlson adds. “You can start small and build out a system as your needs change.”