Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are increasingly becoming a critical tool for growers and researchers. We describe how the technology has advanced, starting with a commercially available WSN node and pushing the technology to make the data more meaningful, actionable and to add advanced irrigation control functionality. User features such as spatial views, custom charts, real-time data access, remote access, irrigation control, alerts, and plant models help create an advanced WSN system that is user centric. Growers and researchers were involved in the design process by directly communicating with the design engineers, and continuously using and testing new features, resulting in a user-centric design and experience. The results of this research are being rolled into a new line of commercial products and is continuously evolving based on user feedback and interaction.
David Kohanbash, George Kantor, Todd Martin, and Lauren Crawford
John D. Lea-Cox, William L. Bauerle, Marc W. van Iersel, George F. Kantor, Taryn L. Bauerle, Erik Lichtenberg, Dennis M. King, and Lauren Crawford
Wireless sensor networks (WSNs) transmit sensor data and control signals over long distances without the need for expensive infrastructure, allowing WSNs to add value to existing irrigation systems since they provide the grower with direct feedback on the water needs of the crop. We implemented WSNs in nine commercial horticulture operations. We provide an overview of the integration of sensors with hardware and software to form WSNs that can monitor and control irrigation water applications based on one of two approaches: 1) “set-point control” based on substrate moisture measurements or 2) “model-based control” that applied species-specific irrigation in response to transpiration estimates. We summarize the economic benefits, current and future challenges, and support issues we currently face for scaling WSNs to entire production sites. The series of papers that follow either directly describe or refer the reader to descriptions of the findings we have made to date. Together, they illustrate that WSNs have been successfully implemented in horticultural operations to greatly reduce water use, with direct economic benefits to growers.