Report details multiple commercial uses of wireless sensor networks

Feb 25, 2014

Managing the quality and quantity of freshwater resources is one of the most serious environmental challenges of the 21st century. Global population growth and increasing urbanization have resulted in increased competition for water resources among domestic, industrial, and agricultural users. Challenged to find ways to manage irrigation needs while recognizing the limitations of freshwater resources, many commercial horticulture operations are showing increased interest in the use of wireless sensor networks (WSN)—technology designed to both monitor and control irrigation events. A review published in HortTechnology highlights the recent advances in specific WSN technology and discusses implications for its use in commercial horticulture settings.

"Previous studies have demonstrated the utility of sensor-controlled irrigation," explained Matthew Chappell, lead author of the report. "The subsequent step in facilitating adoption of this technology has been the on-farm implementation of soil moisture-based irrigation hardware and software developed as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crops Research Initiative Project." Chappell and colleagues at the University of Georgia's Department of Horticulture reported on the implementation and use of these WSNs at three commercial nursery and greenhouse operations in Georgia.

The report focused on the use of capacitance-based soil moisture sensors to both monitor and control irrigation events. "Since on-farm testing of these (WSNs) to monitor and control irrigation scheduling began in 2010, WSNs have been deployed in a diverse assortment of commercial horticulture operations," the authors said. They said that improved software and hardware have resulted from the challenges and successes experienced by growers, and grower confidence in WSNs has subsequently improved.

"Growers are using WSNs in a variety of ways to fit specific needs, resulting in multiple commercial applications," Chappell noted. "Some growers use WSNs as fully functional irrigation controllers. Other growers use components of WSNs, specifically the web-based graphical user interface (GUI), to monitor grower-controlled irrigation schedules."

"The case studies we documented exemplify the advancements that can be made in product development, deployment, and implementation when researchers work together with commercial growers," said Chappell. He noted that the research project has resulted in successful WSN implementation at three commercial nurseries in Georgia, which now trust and rely on WSN data not only to monitor substrate moisture but also to control irrigation. "Based on the positive experiences and comments from our grower collaborators, other growers have been eager to try WSNs in their operations."

The researchers concluded that the main factor limiting wide-scale adoption of is the lack of a commercially available WSN hardware and software designed specifically for the ornamental plant industry.

Explore further: Sensors allow for efficient irrigation, give growers more control over plant growth

More information: HortTechnology December 2013 vol. 23 no. 6 747-753 horttech.ashspublications.org/… nt/23/6/747.abstract

Provided by American Society for Horticultural Science

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Well-watered citrus tested in cold-acclimating temperatures

Jan 31, 2014

Commercial citrus growers are often challenged by environmental conditions in winter, including low seasonal rainfall that is typical in many citrus growing regions. Growers must rely on irrigation to sustain citrus crops ...

Probably wireless

Sep 03, 2008

Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) used to detect and report events including hurricanes, earthquakes, and forest fires and for military surveillance and antiterrorist activities are prone to subterfuge. In the International Jo ...

Greener disaster alerts

Jun 27, 2011

New software allows wireless sensor networks to run at much lower energy, according to researchers writing in the International Journal of Sensor Networks. The technology could improve efficiency for hurricane and other ...

New micro water sensor can aid growers

Oct 11, 2013

(Phys.org) —Crop growers, wine grape and other fruit growers, food processors and even concrete makers all benefit from water sensors for accurate, steady and numerous moisture readings. But current sensors ...

Recommended for you

Big data confirms climate extremes are here to stay

21 hours ago

In a paper published online today in the journal Scientific Reports, published by Nature, Northeastern researchers Evan Kodra and Auroop Ganguly found that while global temperature is indeed increasing, so too is the variab ...

Peru's carbon quantified: Economic and conservation boon

21 hours ago

Today scientists unveiled the first high-resolution map of the carbon stocks stored on land throughout the entire country of Perú. The new and improved methodology used to make the map marks a sea change ...

How might climate change affect our food supply?

22 hours ago

It's no easy question to answer, but prudence demands that we try. Thus, Microsoft and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have teamed up to tackle "food resilience," one of several themes ...

Groundwater is safe in potential N.Y. fracking area

22 hours ago

Two Cornell hydrologists have completed a thorough groundwater examination of drinking water in a potential hydraulic fracturing area in New York's Southern Tier. They determined that drinking water in potable ...

User comments : 0