New low consumption and autonomous soil humidity sensor with fast deployment
Water is a key resource for agriculture both for the economic and environmental sustainability. The volume of water used for irrigation per year in EU-28 is 39.8 billion m3. However, effective irrigation is only 35% of this amount.
Irrigation of crops is usually applied based on a fixed schedule or even on the farmers intuition. Despite technologies such as soil moisture sensors are available in the market to help farmers make better decisions on water management, there is a poor market penetration for these technologies.
ENCORE aims to design a low cost Cyber-Physical-System that will integrate sensing, logging and remote communication functionalities. Using the latest low consumption IoT technologies such as Ultranarrow Band protocols and the new generation of low power microprocessors STM32-L0.
Additionally, the envisaged system will be designed to make the deployment process very easy so no specialized staff will need to be involved (DIY concept) and only a simple app will guide the user during the process.
Soil moisture monitoring is the more direct method to assess the real need for irrigation in agriculture. With the world’s population set to increase by 65% (3.7 billion) by ∼2050, the additional food required to feed future generations will put further enormous pressure on freshwater resources. Agriculture is the largest single user of fresh water, accounting for ∼75% of current human water use.
Globally, in both irrigated and rain fed agriculture only about 10–30% of the available water (as rainfall, surface or groundwater) is used by plants as transpiration, being even a lower figure (5%) in arid areas.
In this context, improving water use efficiency in agriculture could not only make a better use of this scarce resource but also reduce the energy consumption derived of the use of pumps and other devices involved in irrigation.
HSENS proposes a new technology that will significantly contribute to these goals, allowing to reduce the consumption both of water and energy by more than 30% in agriculture. Thus, only in Europe the new system would allow to save almost 12 billion m3 of water per year.