Smart Irrigation Systems In Agriculture
In recent years, farmers around the world have had to be resourceful when it hasn’t rained. To solve agricultural production problems, they use technologies such as smart irrigation systems to overcome water shortages and maximize crop yields.
Irrigation systems, however, are inefficient. About half of all irrigation water is wasted due to runoff, wind, and evaporation. That’s because most irrigation systems rely on simple timers and controllers for scheduling. A much more efficient approach is to use water only when needed and apply exactly the right amount.
That, among other things, is what the Internet of Things helps farmers do. IoT makes farm management smarter by enabling farmers to improve efficiency through wise resource consumption.
The benefits of a smart irrigation system
Growing at a CAGR of 15.3%, the smart irrigation market is expected to reach $2.1 billion by 2025 as agribusinesses and farmers actively embrace smart irrigation technology to improve their day-to-day operations.
The advantages of smart irrigation are far-reaching. By monitoring soil moisture levels, a smart water irrigation system allows farmers to automate their irrigation processes and reduce water use. In addition to more efficient consumption of resources, other benefits include:
Cost savings due to minimized water waste
Reduced human efforts
A unified view of soil characteristics, including moisture and nutrient contents
Smart notifications in case of abnormalities
Better long-term landscape health
IoT ecosystem for smart irrigation
To achieve these advantages, smart water irrigation systems make extensive use of IoT sensors. These sensors, placed in the field, send real-time data to a central gateway that then automatically switches on a water pump whenever moisture or temperature values are outside the predetermined range.
Wireless low-power networks like LoRa are used to empower IoT sensors and make it possible for information to flow in real time to and from the central gateway. The entire irrigation system can be managed by an end user through a custom cloud-based platform or mobile application.
Types of IoT sensors for smart irrigation of farmlands
Depending on the type of data to be captured, soil, weather, and plant IoT sensors can be used in a smart irrigation solution.
Soil-based sensors gather relevant data about volumetric water content, salinity, electrical conductivity, and other crucial parameters. Located at key points across the field, these sensors send data to a irrigation system to help farmers gain quick insights into the soil’s state and predict irrigation needs.
Also called evapotranspiration (ET) sensors, weather sensors measure ultra-local environmental conditions like water evaporation from the soil surface and plant transpiration. Combined with data provided by a GIS-based solution, these sensors can help generate more accurate water predictions.
Plant-mounted sensors are still new but show great promise in gauging a plant’s water status. Attached to a plant’s stalk or fruits, a sensor can track minute changes like swelling or shrinking and alert farmers to insufficient water content or yield-reducing tendencies in the field.