Submitted to: Applied Engineering in Agriculture
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2014
Publication Date: 4/20/2015
Citation: Sui, R., Baggard, J.L. 2015. Wireless sensor network for monitoring soil moisture and weather conditions. Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 31(2):193-200.
Interpretive Summary: Various types of sensing devices have been developed and made commercially available for water management applications. Some of these devices are capable of wirelessly transferring the data collected from their sensors. Scientists at USDA-ARS Crop Production Systems Research Unit in Stoneville, MS developed and deployed a wireless sensor network (WSN) in fields for irrigation management. The WSN consists of multiple soil moisture sensors, weather sensors, radio data loggers, and a wireless modem. The WSN has the capability to measure, collect, and wirelessly transmit soil moisture data and weather information onto the internet to make the data accessible online in real time. This WSN system has been field evaluated for two years. Data collected by the system have been used for irrigation research in cotton, corn, and soybean crops. The WSN can be a useful tool for water management in crop production.
Technical Abstract: A wireless sensor network (WSN) was developed and deployed in three fields to monitor soil water status and collect weather data for irrigation scheduling. The WSN consists of soil-water sensors, weather sensors, wireless data loggers, and a wireless modem. Soil-water sensors were installed at three depths below the ground surface in various locations across the fields. Weather sensors were mounted on a 3-m instrument tower. An antenna mount was designed and fabricated for use in the WSN. As field equipment such as a fertilizer or chemical applicator impacted the mount, the mount was capable of protecting the antenna from damage by the equipment. In the WSN, received radio signal strength of Em50R data logger decreased as the increase of distance from the data logger to the receiver. It also decreased as the decrease of distance between the top of plant canopy and the logger’s antenna. The antenna of Em50R logger required to be placed above the plant canopy for effective data communication. The Em50G data logger was capable of transferring data as its antenna was inside the plant canopy. Using the WSN system, soil moisture was measured at one-hour intervals, weather conditions including precipitation, solar radiation, wind speed, and humidity were continuously monitored and soil moisture data and weather data were automatically and wirelessly transmitted to the internet making the data available online. Data collected by the WSN were used in irrigation scheduling.