October 4, 2011
School of Engineering, Amritapuri
According to the Indian Ministry of Water Resources, our nation extracts more groundwater than any other country in the world.
Sixty percent of that water is used in irrigation. The rest is consumed by industrial and household consumers.
As India’s economy continues to grow, so does its water consumption, making effective water management now more important than ever before.
In an effort to improve irrigation practices, Bri Remya and her team of final-year students of B.Tech. (Computer Science and Engineering), Asha S. Benny, Jayapriya A. and K. M. Shabana, designed a microcontroller based sensor network to automate irrigation by initiating watering only when absolutely necessary.
Their work was recently published in Global Journal of Engineering and Applied Sciences as a paper titled Microcontroller Based Sensor Network for Irrigation in Agriculture.
The paper discussed how sensor based technology could allow for systematic monitoring of parameters like soil water content and groundwater depth to determine when watering should occur.
“Real-time knowledge of these parameters would allow the farmer to define precisely the time and the amount of water needed for each irrigation event,” stated Bri. Remya.
“Watering would only need to happen when absolutely necessary,” she added.
In the proposed system, the entire field is first divided into small sections, with environmental sensors embedded in each section. If a particular section requires watering, the respective sensors send a digital signal to the microcontrollers which in turn, open the valves that control the sprinklers. The valves are switched off, when the required amount of water is received.
An algorithm predicts when watering should occur for a particular crop based on its ideal growing conditions. Sensors also provide information to adjust watering cycles based on weather patterns. As a result, the amount of water used is minimized, preventing soil water logging.
For larger fields, a master microcontroller unit is used to aggregate readings from microcontrollers for different sections. The start and end time of each watering cycle is transferred real-time to a central server for further analysis.
“Microcontroller sensors are quite cheap and their power requirements are also quite less,” explained Bri. Remya.
“The monitoring of parameters such as temperature, humidity and soil moisture can also be used to control the occurrence of pest attacks or diseases,” she added.
B.Tech. (Electronics and Communication Engineering) students will take the work forward, moving from simulation to implementation.
This sensor based system has the potential to revolutionize irrigation practices. Water is a precious resource that we can’t live without. Amrita students and faculty are doing all they can to make sure it’s not wasted.