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Smart Irrigation - Progress Report

Period 1: 01-03-2018 -> 31-08-2018

After the start of the project on the 1e of march 2018 we have made quite a bit of progress developing Tracis - Smart Irrigation Control. We have setup a test orchard at Lewis Fruits with 4ha of Conference Pear trees with a drip irrigation system devided into 3 sectors. This test location is used to test different irrigation regimes and compare them to other orchads in close proximity to this test location.

Furthermore we have been able to install version 1 of the Wireless LoRaWAN Soil Sensor Modules with both,1 x SMEC300 and 1 x Watermark sensor connected to them. LoRaWAN Modules have been installed in the Orchards of 3 Project Partners: Lewis Fruit (26 units in 6 different orchards close to the test field), WaterFruit (3 LoRaWAN Units with both an SMEC300 and Watermark Sensor connected to each of the moduls in different depths), and 8 LoRaWAN Units in the Orchards of Mts. Steijn with both the SMEC300 and Watermark sensor. At Mts. Steijn we look mainly at different fruits / varieties or age of the trees.

At both test locations of Lewis Fruit and Mts. Steijn we have installed a private LoRaWAN Network based on a Multitech Conduit Gateway connected to The Things Network. The Location of van de Water Fruit uses the Nation wide LoRaWAN Network of the dutch telecom provider KPN. So far we have good experience with both types of installations regarding range and reliability. The KPN Nation wide network has the advantage of a lower initial investment for the grower because there is no need to invest in you own LoRaWAN Gateway. The Private LoRaWAN has the advantage of less subsrciption costs, more control and it is easier to expand the sensor network/p>

In the sections below we have described progress made by the project partners. The aim for this first period was focused on: Measurement data, Orientation on posible solutions and setting up test locations.

 

 Development of Tracis - Smart Irrigation is funded with help of the European Union, and OP Oost.(EFRO)

 

DEVELOPMENT OF THE LORAWAN UNITS: 

 

The LoRaWAN units are an essential part of the Smart Irrigation System, because they will provide the necesary sensor data from the field. Already before the start of the project, we decided to use the LoRa protocol for the Wireless Sensor Units that we need to install at different locations in the field to obtain Real Time or Near Real Time information on the current Soil Conditions. There were a number of reason's for choosing the LoRa Protocol, but some of the most important once were Range, Scaleability, Private Networking and Price.

To make the LoRaWAN Units Flexible, we choosed for a modular approach. This resulted in a Communication part (the actual LoRaWAN communication modul), and an interfacing part. The big advantage of this approach is that we can use the LoRaWAN module with other sensors as well. For the Smart Irrigation Project we work with the WaterScout SMEC300 or WaterScout SM100 Sensor to measure Soil Moisture (%VWC), but since some of the project partners were used to work with the Watermark Sensor (widely used with pear and apple growers) we needed to integrate the Watermark sensor as well. Another Sensor that needs to be integrated in the Smart Irritagation system is a Ground Water Level Sensor. For the SMEC300 / SM100 Sensor and Watermark sensor we could use the same interfacing "Back Plane", but as for the Ground Water Level Sensor we needed to develop a different version of the backplane. Below are some pictures of the PCB's that were developed.

 
         

LoRaWAN Wireless Communication Modul For mounting on Backplane

Backplane for WaterScout Sensors supports 2 analog sensor + 2 I²C T/RH sensors

Backplane for Ground Water Sensor  supports 1 Groundwater level sensor  at TTL level

Backplane for Delta-T Sensor supports 1 SMT-150T Soil Moisture  sensor + 1 I²C T/RH sensor

 

 

All the intelligence is in the LoRaWAN Com Modul, the other PCB's (although much bigger) are simple pcb's only for signal interfacing with the LoRaWAN Com Modul. So Normally the LoRaWAN unit is mounted on top of one of the Backplanes (depending on the type of sensor required), and then loaded with the correct Firmware for that particular sensor. 

So now that the hardware is ready, we can focus on developing the Firmware for the LoRaWAN Com Module (the other units don't need firmware). At the moment we have integrated the WaterScout SMEC 300 Sensor, and Watermark Sensor, and running tests with units in the field at 3 different test locations (Lewis Fruit, Mts. Steijn and Waterfruit). The tests we perform include: range, accuracy, stability, reliability and endurance. These tests are looking already very promising although we will be optimizing the firmware to optimize in all of these area's.

 

 
SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT ARCHITECTURE & INFRA-STRUCTURE:   

A very big portion of the Smart Irrigation System of course is the software part. Since the start of the project in march we have invested a lot of time in research regarding the best posible architecture and infra structure so that the system will stable and scaleable for the future. At the moment of writing this report we are in the final stages of deciding which technics and infra structure to use. implementing these technics and infra structure is planned for the second period (starting 01-09-2018).

This however doesn't mean we haven't developed any software yet. Over the past six months we have developed many proof of concepts to test with the different technics as mentioned above, and we have developed the part of the Smart Irrigation System that is collecting data from the LoRaWAN units in the field and showing this data online in our test web portal. 

 

 

 

On the left we can see data from 3 different LoRaWAN modules installed at Waterfruit in Beesd.

 

 

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