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AUTOMATIC AGRICULTURE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM USING SENSOR NETWORKS

This system was one of my undergraduate projects in Electrical and Electronics engineering. In this project we worked with Indian Farmers to understand their agricultural practices and develop a cost effective agriculture management system that was aimed at resolving the various issues that were commonplace in Indian agriculture.

The project was developed alongside two of my undergraduate classmates. I served as the team lead and also undertook the coding of all necessary programs in the processor (we used Arduino and later processors provided by Texas Instruments who sponsored various devices for the project) to automate various processes and was also in charge of the setup of the soil moisture sensor network.

The project was also the recipient of several awards including the best project award in INNOVISION-2017 awards program organised by Rajalakshmi engineering college in association with IEEE Computer society , Association for computing machinery (ACM) and computer society of India.

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The project was also one of only 70 teams to qualify for finals in the India Innovation Design Challenge organized by Texas Instruments and Indian Institute of Management - Bangalore. The project recieved a grant a 20k indian ruppees and all the processors were sponsored by Texas Instruments.

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INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

After an extensive research with agriculture enthusiasts ,farmers and even urban gardeners we decided to address three major concerns with  agriculture , namely:

1) Water scarcity is a major problem for agriculture in Tamil Nadu and other Indian states.In existing irrigation systems, the water requirement of plants/crops is not monitored .Even when the soil is moist enough, water is still provided. This water is not absorbed by the plants and this leads to water logging which in turn paves the way for water scarcity. Hence, a smart irrigation system monitor the water requirements of the plant is needed.

2)In rural India unrestrained livestock are common place.Moreover pests such as rodents and insects add to the misery of farmers by damaging food crops.

3)While sprinkler systems are more common in urban gardens other irrigation techniques such as strip irrigation , furrow irrigation and check basin method are more widely used for agriculture.The issue with these techniques were that after heavy rains there was water stagnation which affected freshly sown crops.

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The strip irrigation method that was common place in most indian fields

One of my project mates interviewing a farmer to understand his agriculture practices and feedback on our project

SOLAR BASED WIRELESS SOIL MOISTURE SENSOR NETWORK

To remediate problem one on water scarcity we decided to build a wireless soil moisture sensor network powered by a solar based power bank. Soil moisture sensor is used to monitor the moisture content of the soil consistently. The sensors record the moisture content of the soil and sends  it to the microcontroller memory. We initially used Bluetooth modules for wireless data transmission later we switched to more long range data transmitters .Depending on the soil moisture sensor values the microcontroller is used to Start or stop the motor irrigating the field. Below is the first single unit soil moisture sensor network we developed for testing the prototype.

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Post testing of the single unit , we worked on adding more units to the network and aggregating the data from different sensors

to decide on the operation of the irrigation motor. Furthermore we also worked on deciding the optimum moisture content values for sugarcane , which was one of the most widely grown crops in the fields we were studying. We also came up with guidelines for placement of sensors using various references.Below are some of the guidelines :

-Consider your various plant types first. For most sites, the ideal scenario would be to place one sensor in the lawn, one in the shrubs, and one in the trees if these plant types are in separate zones. 


- Bury the sensor in the zone that needs to be watered the most frequently (the one that dries out the quickest).
Configure the program in the irrigation controller to meet the needs of this zone. 


- Place the sensor in an average to slightly dry area (a spot that receives an average amount of water for that zone). If you have very poor distribution uniformity (for example, mixed sprays and rotors), then you need to bury your sensor in a drier spot within the zone to avoid higher than average moisture readings. But keep in mind, the drier the area where the sensor is placed, the more the system will overwater the wet areas


-Bury the sensor in the top third of the root zone, usually 2 - 3 inches deep and bee sure to use some water to compact the soil against the sensor. Finally mark or record the location of the sensor. 

ULTRASONIC BASED PEST CONTROL SYSTEM AND WATER STAGNATION CONTROL USING WATER LEVEL SENSORS

To address problem two with pests we came with a ultrasonic pest control system that was embedded along with each soil moisture sensor unit.These ultrasonic pest chasers were designed to repel pests from the home. Rodents respond to US with a frequency around 60 kHz. cats and dogs can be repelled using 22-25 kHz. Insects like mosquitoes, house fly, Fleas etc responds to 38-44 kHz. US will create high pressure on the eardrum of Rats so that they move away from US source. US generally creates stress on animals, so they avoid ultrasound.We initially used Piezoelectric discs along with Ultrasonic amplifiers to generate ultrasonic waves and later adopted a more complex system but the effectiveness was still limited. While we noted a considerable decrease in rodent attacks it was not completely eliminated and the system was required to be used in conjunction with other pest control techniques and traps.

 

To address problem three with water stagnation/water logging we decided to use water level sensors that transmit data to the processor and eventually to the famer's mobile , who can choose to operate the draining motor and pump the water into a nearby canal or water storage tank. We tested a rudimentary prototype of this system (attaching a short video of that test below)

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BLOCK DIAGRAM AND MINUMUM VIABLE PROTOTYPE

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The Soil moisture sensor network is used to measure soil moisture content of the field and an aggregated data is sent to processor which operates the irrigation motor. The information is also relayed to the farmers mobile and allows for remote control/override

It is also necessary to monitor the temperature conditions of the field before cultivating it. The LM35 temperature sensor measures the temperature and sends the same to the processor through which information is sent to the farmers mobile. The relay module is use to operate the water pumps.

Furthermore a GSM/Bluetooth module is employed to allow remote tracking of cultivating field quality. The Bluetooth/Wi-Fi module provides remote tracking of irrigation and monitoring of plant health. It periodically sends data acquired by the wireless network to the farmers mobile.

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TAKEAWAYS

Through this project we learnt a lot about hardware prototyping , programming of processors and setting up sensor networks.

We also worked closely with farmers from different social classes to understand their varied needs and painpoints.

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