An Agriculture Rover to Automate the Drip Irrigation System as well as Report on Crop Health

NU team consisting of Vikas Upadhyay, Faculty from the Electronics & Communications Area,RM. Rama Chidambaram, R. Loga Prakash, Deep Parikh, Raaghav Mehta and Rohan Srivastava all students of B.Tech CSE 2014-18 batch looked into the pressing problem of global water stress and designed an IoT based intelligent rover for Smart Drip Irrigation System.

Background and Need:

As per the data from World data lab, “over 2 billion people live in the countries experiencing high water stress today and the number will continue to increase”. As per the study by Dr. Vibha Dhawan (Water and Agriculture in India 2017) which was conducted with support from Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, “India has 18% of world population, having 4% of world’s fresh water, out of which 80% is used in agriculture. India receives an average of 4,000 billion cubic meters of precipitation every year. However, only 48% of it is used in India’s surface and groundwater bodies.”

Fig. 1. Irrigation domestic water usage in India.

Source: Central water commission

Fig.2. Water stress

 Fig.3. Ground water level

This research work focuses on developing automatic and centralized systems to promote the concept of Sustainable Agriculture by implementing the practice of precision irrigation. By feeding the information related to the crop’s water requirements, the rover robot monitors the moisture content in the soil and if it is below the threshold, a notification is sent to the famer and the water lines are activated. Apart from measuring the moisture present in the soil, the robot also measure the humidity, temperature and nitrogen content in the soil. Thereby, factoring in all the conditions that will lead to the proper growth of the crop.

This system also maintains a record of all this data over cloud and through our app, the farmer can keep track of what’s going on in his field. This whole operation can also be centralised where there are multiple hectares of fields with various crops being grown and the whole operation of the bots and the data being measured can be easily audited at a control room with the help of the cloud and hence, scalability is not an issue. The proposed system was tested in the lab conditions and it was identified that in the lab environment, it utilizes 35% less water in farming as compared to traditional farming. The proposed system process is far more effective than the drip irrigation system only as the this system is fully automatic and acts on the sensor data.

The system also uses a camera to capture crop images and utilizes image processing for detection of crop’s health.

System Design:

Each rover will have a moisture sensor to sense the moisture levels, a camera to capture images for digital image processing, a motion sensor to check if the rover is actually in motion or not, some DC motors, and motor drivers to run these motors. The camera is mounted on the robotic arm on each rover so that the camera can be raised in order to take accurate pictures from various angles. As all the sensors are placed on the rover itself, the proposed system is very cost effective as it eliminates the need of placing multiple sensors as multiple fixed points across the farming field. The entire rover is being controlled by a WeMo’s D1 R2. It uses its Wi-Fi adaptor to upload the processed and collected data to the cloud storage. Each rover has a solar panel, which is used to recharge the batteries on the rover. The path to be followed and the spots where each rover senses the moisture can be predefined and modified using an android application. The app also allows the user to control the entire system remotely. A water level detector will be used to detect the amount of available water and upload this information to the cloud. The uploaded data is used to turn various segments of the drip irrigation system on and off. The app uses all the uploaded data to produce statistical reports, and also alert the user about various necessary conditions as and when required.

Fig.4. Methodology

Fig.5. Diagrammatic representation of a whole system

Fig. 6. Android app displaying the live feeds

       Fig. 7. Android app displaying the status of plant

The outcome of the research work was a research paper “Automation in drip irrigation using IOT devices” by Rama Chidambaram RM and Vikas Upadhyaya which was published in International Conference on Image Information Processing, PP 1-5, 2017.

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Future work:

  • Local Positioning System will be implemented for manual operation of Rover in case of damage or any change in the surface where rover moves.
  • Rain Drop sensor will be placed in a shed where rover rests. In case of rain the sensors will communicate to the rover by sending binary signals. This prevents the rover by getting damaged or hardware failure due to rain.