SensorNode LoRaWAN® for Pivot Irrigation Monitoring with AGWAN
Developed by Energy ROI, an energy management company based in Tasmania, Australia, AGWAN (Agricultural Wide Area Network) is bringing long-range, low-cost monitoring and control solutions to the agricultural sector of Tasmania and beyond.
Utilizing recent advancements in long-range, low cost, and low energy consumption digital technology, AGWAN has developed a network solution where farmers are able to locate and control the physical assets on their farms.
Through the use of LoRaWAN® technology and Digital Matter LoRaWAN devices, the AGWAN solution allows farmers to monitor and control irrigators, water troughs, and other farm assets remotely.
“We’re at a crossroads now in agriculture,” says Tom Mills, Engineer, and Designer at AGWAN. “There’s a new generation coming on board, and they have a far greater acceptance of automation technology.”
The Problem with Pivot Irrigators
Pivot Irrigation is a field irrigation system in which machinery rotates around a pivot and sprinklers water the crops. Center Pivot Irrigation Units irrigate in a circular pattern and are supplied with water from the pivot point at the center of the circle.
Inspecting pivot irrigators on a farm is a very time-consuming operation, but critical for ensuring a successful harvest and the highest possible yields. Subsequently, farmers often spend countless hours and tanks of fuel at all times of the day and night traveling back and forth across acres of land, to ensure their pivot irrigation systems are functioning properly.
Despite the many advantages that come from farmers using pivot irrigators to water their crops, there are still some teething problems that can arise:
- Pump breakdowns or burst mains
- Drive system mechanical failures
- Flat tyres causing pivots to get bogged
- Power outages
- Irrigators blowing over from strong windstorms
The provision of a remote monitoring and automation system allows farmers to rapidly respond to any unplanned outage thanks to immediate text message notification, which can be verified at any time on the dedicated mobile app. This minimizes yield loss and maximizes profitability.
A significant number of farms also don’t have cellular connectivity coverage. LoRaWAN provides them with an alternative solution, that allows farmers to establish their own LoRaWAN communication network across their farm.
Sensor Monitoring and GPS Location with the SensorNode LoRaWAN
Digital Matter’s SensorNode LoRaWAN device is ideal for remote pivot irrigation monitoring, as it’s a high-precision GPS/GLONASS device, with customizable inputs and outputs to control the pivot irrigation system. There is also the potential feature of connecting with an I2C sensor interface for temperature monitoring if required.
A minimally invasive installation, this irrigation monitor installs into the switching box at the outermost set of wheels of a pivot irrigator. It has the following capabilities:
- Status (stopped or operational) viewable any time in the mobile app with 10-minute status updates.
- Change of state text message alarms for when the irrigator has unintentionally stopped or started without authorization.
- GPS position of the outer tower, viewable on the mobile app to see where your pivot irrigator is located.
- Remote stop function. Stop-on-track function to be released as an Over the Air Update Q2 2021.
- Optional remote start and pressure sensing functions.
“Just being able to look at a map of my pivot irrigators and see that they’re now 180 degrees from where they were when I went to bed that night, assures me that they’re okay and working. This has now changed my life, as I no longer have to wake up first thing in the morning and stress about the fact that I need to drive to the other side of the farm to physically check all my irrigators,” says a farmer using the AGWAN software.
Digital Matter LoRaWAN devices feature a versatile and open payload format, which facilitates integration into their-party platforms. Telematics data collected from the SensorNode is decoded and displayed in the AGWAN platform, where near real-time alerts are sent via SMS to enable fast and efficient responses in the instance of a pivot irrigator stopping unintentionally.
The Future of AGWAN
AGWAN has started trialling the Oyster and Yabby LoRaWAN devices for water trough monitoring. They are also looking to expand into New Zealand, as there are a large number of pivot and liner/lateral irrigators on the eastern side of the southern island. Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales are looking promising as well, due to the close proximity to Tasmania.