Hardware: The Agriculture Sensor Network

 

The Definitive Soil Sensor

India lags behind many countries in terms of per area production of crops, and one of the major costs for farming is purchasing fertilizers, electricity for irrigation and seeds. However, till now farmers have no way of directly using the remote sensing data collected by the government. Here are some proposals for providing farmers access to this data and recommendations based on the data. Moreover, accurate data on soil nutrient content, moisture, temperature etc. is also difficult to obtain based on remote sensing measurements alone. With companies such as Soil IQ (http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/10/soil-iq/) bringing sunlight powered soil sensors for as little as $25, thsi project tries to find ways to stream this data to the remote sensing satellites and to the farmers. A few thoughts about this:

  1. Displaying NPK and moisture level on the device itself by some simple technique such as LCD or e-ink, which can then be cross-referenced by the farmer on some chart made available at every seed distribution center so as to know amount of fertilizer, best crop etc. This is important since the farmer should be able to access this data even in absence of a central body analyzing the data.

  2. For uploading the data to a central body, there are the following options:

    1. Uploading the data via mobile network channels e.g. via SMS. May be difficult to support in a rugged device. If there is significant mobile network coverage in agricultural fields, this can be feasible.

    2. Uploading data via sensor network of multiple sensors which ultimately forward the data to a base station. Not viable in absence of large density of sensors.

    3. Beacon signal (via IR emission or radio) which can be captured by orbiting satellites. This can be done completely without any infrastructure support provided the IR emission is tuned at the reception frequency of the satellite. In order to avoid interference from sunlight reflection in daytime, one can also beam the signal at night. This can be very efficient provided the required light intensity is not high.

  3. Once uploaded, this data can be analyzed to generate trends and more accurate predictions for the farmers. This can then be sent to the farmers by

    1. SMS, but illiteracy and low mobile penetration will be a problem here

    2. postal mail, with picturised icons for easy comprehensibility.

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One thought on “Hardware: The Agriculture Sensor Network

  1. Pingback: Challenges Bulletin Board | The India Hackathon

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