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ARS Home » Plains Area » Bushland, Texas » Conservation and Production Research Laboratory » Soil and Water Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #359027

Research Project: Precipitation and Irrigation Management to Optimize Profits from Crop Production

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Title: Water in the Cloud: A new system for field water monitoring with Cloud data access

item Evett, Steven - Steve
item Schomberg, Harry
item Thompson, Alondra
item Schwartz, Robert
item O`Shaughnessy, Susan
item ANDRADE, MANUEL - Orise Fellow

Submitted to: Irrigation Association Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/3/2018
Publication Date: 12/7/2018
Citation: Evett, S.R., Schomberg, H.H., Thompson, A.I., Schwartz, R.C., O'Shaughnessy, S.A., Andrade, M.A. 2018. Water in the Cloud: A new system for field water monitoring with Cloud data access. In: 2018 Irrigation Association Show and Education Conference Technical Session Proceedings. Irrigation Association Conference, December 3-7, 2018, Long Beach, California. p. 1-6.

Interpretive Summary: Correct irrigation scheduling can improve yields and quality of crops while optimizing the crop yield per unit of water used in irrigation. This improves profitability by lowering production costs (less water pumped) and increasing yield and quality. Although accurate soil water sensors are now available for scheduling and can replace laborious hand sampling for soil water content, it is still time consuming for farmers to visit fields in order to read sensors or download data. In many other field operations, farmers are now using Internet based visualization software that provides maps based on satellite imagery. The same ease of use is needed for soil water sensing based data visualization. Scientists at the USDA ARS Conservation & Production Research Laboratory, Bushland, TX, cooperated with scientists at the USDA ARS Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory, Beltsville, MD, to develop a wireless sensor network system for automatically recording sensor data and transmitting it through the cellular telephone network to the Internet “Cloud” where it can be accessed easily using a web browser in a smart phone, tablet or computer. The system is now being developed as a commercial product by a manufacturer and will be available for use by farmers and others in 2019. The scientists are combining this new wireless system with an irrigation scheduling decision support system that will also see limited release to the public as a commercial product in 2019 for center pivot variable rate irrigation systems.

Technical Abstract: Agricultural field water monitoring for irrigation management is still problematic despite the advent of automatic data collecting systems for electromagnetic (EM) soil water sensors. Annual fees for data access can be large, equipment can be expensive, data may not be easily available, and data may not reflect meaningful soil water content values that can be the basis for irrigation decisions. A new system based on open source software and the Arduino hardware platform for datalogging, telemetry and transmission of data to the Internet Cloud has been coupled with accurate, low power EM soil water sensors based on TDR technology to form a complete system for accurate, low cost field soil water content monitoring with Cloud data access. The new wireless sensor network (WSN) system consists of two devices, a wireless node and a wireless gateway, that are installed in weather-proof enclosures in the field. The node collects data from soil water sensors and transmits it wirelessly using the LoRa protocol to the gateway. The gateway collects data from multiple nodes and then retransmits it to a URL on the Internet using a cellular modem. The ARS Irrigation Scheduling Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (ISSCADA) system for center pivot variable rate irrigation control was updated to receive soil water data wirelessly and to display it in a graphical user interface. The ISSCADA system also can use the soil water data to inform decisions that are automatically presented daily to the irrigator as a prescription map that can be accepted and downloaded to a center pivot control panel with a mouse click. Both the WSN and ISSCADA systems are scheduled for release as commercial products in 2019.