Wireless Data Acquisition and Control Systems for Agricultural Water Management Projects

in HortTechnology

Continuous monitoring of hydraulic/hydrologic data for managing water for horticultural crops has been a challenge due to factors such as data loss, intensive resource requirements, and complicated setup and operation. The use of state-of-the-art wireless spread spectrum communication technology and wireless data acquisition and control (WDAC) systems for agricultural water management is discussed in this paper. The WDAC technology was applied to a research project where lysimeters were used for water quantity and quality studies for vegetables. Two types of WDAC networks, master–slave and peer-to-peer WDAC networks, are discussed. The WDAC system linked the wireless dataloggers to a network to make real-time data available over the Internet. The use of WDAC made it possible to collect real-time data and control the experiment (e.g., frequency of data collection) remotely through the Internet. The WDAC system for the lysimeter study was compared to a commonly used manual system with regard to potential instrument damage, data loss, ease of data collection and analyses, and total cost of monitoring. The advantages of the WDAC include: reduced equipment losses from natural disasters (e.g., lightning), improved equipment maintenance, reduced data loss from faulty equipment, higher project personnel efficiency, and real-time involvement by a dispersed team. The total cost of the WDAC system ($65,750) was about half that of the manual system ($130,380). The WDAC system was found to be an effective tool for agricultural water management projects.

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