Affordable precision irrigation system

 

Description

In cooperation with the international NGO Danish Church Aid, we started developing an affordable irrigation management system targeted towards developing countries more than a year ago. If we continue our current pattern of water consumption, the UN predicts that within just 15 years, the global water supply is going to fall 40% short.1  Currently more than 70% of our global freshwater consumption is used for irrigation. Increasing irrigation efficiency in agriculture is, therefore, crucial to solving the global water crisis. The system consists of a series of physical sensor nodes placed in the field that measure the soil tension (pressure that is required to extract water from the soil) and wirelessly transmit this to a gateway / base station placed within 2 km of the field. The gateway contains a SIM card and uploads the data via 2/3G connection to our cloud analytics. Based on these online analyses our system automatically sends a SMS to the farmer, informing him/her of which parts of the field to water. We tested the initial prototype in cooperation with DTU SmartCampus to test basic connectivity issues and the performance in a real outdoor environment. In the summer of 2017 we deployed three prototype systems for field testing in Zimbabwe. Four months into the experiment, we confirmed that the sensors as well as electronics are robust enough to perform in the harsh environment.  We also confirmed that farmers were easily able to understand the conceptual idea of the system, and install the system by themselves on their fields after a brief overview. However the economic situation of most farmers in Zimbabwe and not but least the political situation made it an infeasible country to base our initial startup venture in. Based on intensive research via the pilot project, mentoring, and user-validation, we have instead established the foundation for a large pilot project in the avocado industry in Peru. We visited Peru in March 2018 to set up the initial partnerships, and we are currently working on preparing the hardware for a larger pilot test in the fall of 2018.

Data - Are they available for others to use?

Datapoints of Soil Water Tension along with ambient temperature. Currently we are not logging any continuous data, but once we set up the pilot project which will be running over a 6 month period, the data will be available for anyone interested.

We are always looking for talent who want to change the world by working in an impact driven startup. Feel free to contact us if you want to help us democratize agtech technologies in order to tackle the global water crisis.

Contact

Jesper Alkestrup

jesper@soilsense.io

or contact Smart Campus to hear more.

More pictures:

http://www.smartcampus.dtu.dk/cases/affordable-precision-irrigation-system
21 JANUARY 2019