Wireless Water

Wireless Water

As the automation of both private and corporate farms is embraced, we see the use of sophisticated pivot irrigation systems and smart agriculture practices due to new technologies. The human imagination continues to create new ways to use this technology and push those technology providers for more powerful tools.

Ten to 15 years ago, even the most advanced automated pivot systems seldom used telemetry. If they did, the data throughput was extremely slow and seldom provided coverage to all the pivot irrigation sites. Some of the wireless technology also was expensive. Therefore, the telemetry technology was difficult to use effectively because only some sites could be remotely monitored or where farms were paying by the data byte or monthly usage fees to the technology provider.

With many new telemetry technologies available today, it is common to have 100% communication to all farm pivot locations and see data throughput from pivot sites of 19.2 kbps up to 115.2 kbps. High speed backbone telemetry is available with both serial and Ethernet connectivity with speeds ranging close to a megabit per second. Hybrid wireless systems can be utilized where needed to combine different wireless technologies over large geographic areas or remote locations. This can include both cellular, satellite and microwave products that can be deployed for remote areas, or if a higher speed backhaul of data is required.

New radio products keep shrinking in size, but are getting smarter and often feature both serial and Ethernet data interface options. Hybrid systems that use a mix of technologies can help save costs by using one technology that has monthly costs or fees; for example a user can piggy-back on to the same network with a license-free system that can collect and send all the data from the local pivot irrigation sites back to that location. Also, the use of GPS tracking devices is quite common to help with the location of the trailing end sprinkler on the pivot line, and this information can be displayed on a computer screen or a PDA phone.

Wireless For Pivots

The latest telemetry trend is “wireless instrumentation” which provides the ability to control and/or monitor analog and digital signals without the constraints of wire. These signals may be used to communicate to and from the pivot to the farm to check moisture and temperature sensors, chemical soil samples, wind speed for the best time to water, the actual pivot location and pump power usage that can be viewed anytime. The capability with Internet access allows the entire pivot system to be viewed via a smartphone, enabling the farm manager to remotely operate the pivot system, report/view status changes and see the remote sensors’ status.

Until recently, field devices had to be hard-wired or use cellular or satellite communication hardware. The cost of cellular and satellite can begin to add up with monthly usage fees. Now, this can be done wirelessly and without any reoccurring fees by using unlicensed spread spectrum 900MHz radios. These radios can have IO (input/output) control functions built in or can integrate into a remote terminal unit (RTU) or some other type of control device.

Wireless devices with IO capability can send analog and discrete information back and forth from the radio to the host or SCADA software. The most common way of doing this is using Modbus protocol and assigning Modbus register values to the input and output required. These devices include pressure, temperature, flow sensors or valves that can be remotely turned on or off. Pump status and GPS coordinates can be carried back to the host computer and displayed with the SCADA software.

Today, several pivot irrigation companies offer some type of wireless communication service that might include cellular, satellite, unlicensed or licensed radios or a combination of two technologies, depending on the farm location. The use of wireless has created an influx of technology that has impacted the speed, size and variety of devices that can be embedded into the controllers, sensors and remote devices. Many of these devices have very small power requirements and can run on lithium batteries or small DC power sources. The new wireless products have become smarter and have the capability to work in several different field environments.

Undoubtedly, the use of wireless products will continue to grow. With commercial farms trying to conserve water resources, manage power use, have access to the health of the pivot system and handle the crops that grow at anytime and anywhere — they will need more wireless technology.

The bandwidth requirements will increase too, and IP devices will be added and become more common place. New embedded products will help save costs and be part of the system instead of being an afterthought. The use of different radio frequencies, field sensors, faster connection speeds and other wireless products will continue. Software and other services will help the farm and farmer have all the information they need at their fingertips.

Leave a Reply

Precision Ag Stories

EquipmentAGCO Showcases White Planters 9800VE Series Planters AT NFMS
February 11, 2016
AGCO unveiled the new White Planters 9800VE Series planter during the 2016 National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, KY. The Read More
EquipmentCase Unveils 2000 Series Early Riser Planter At NFMS
February 10, 2016
Case IH revealed the all-new 2000 Series Early Riser planter to media and attendees at the opening of the National Read More
The Tule ET sensor in wine grapes.
Precision AgTule Technologies: Monitoring Water Stress Can Unlock Potential
February 2, 2016
Although we mostly stick to the things we know around these parts (corn and beans), we’ve strayed from the traditional Read More
SST Analytics
Precision AgSST Analytics Helps Ag Retailers Navigate Down Economy
January 21, 2016
The next few years may be tough for ag retailers. High yields continue to depress grain prices while the global Read More
Top 100 Articles
Elburn Cooperative
CropLife 100Elburn Cooperative Members Vote To Join CHS
December 28, 2015
With 81% of eligible producers voting, 94% cast an affirmative ballot for Elburn Cooperative, a diversified agricultural retailer based out Read More
West Central Cooperative, Jefferson, IA
CropLife 100Farmers Cooperative-West Central Merger Approved
December 21, 2015
The members of Farmers Cooperative Co. (FC), Ames, IA, and West Central Cooperative, Ralston, IA, have both approved the merger Read More
Wheat Growers Innovation Center, Bath, SD
CropLife 100Wheat Growers Opens Innovation Center
December 21, 2015
Wheat Growers’ commitment in providing its farmer-owners with the latest in technological advancements now has a one-of-a-kind focal point, as Read More
CropLife 100ARA Selects The Andersons As 2015 Retailer Of The Year
December 9, 2015
The Agricultural Retailers Association today named Maumee, OH-based The Andersons as its Retailer of the Year for 2015. The award Read More
CPS Washington Court House John Deere Sprayer
CropLife 100Application Equipment Report: It Is Easy Being Green For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 5, 2015
On The Muppets television show, Kermit the Frog is famous for singing a song about the troubles he encounters in Read More
Fertilizer Bin
CropLife 100Fertilizer Sales: Another Down Year For Top 100 Ag Retailers
December 4, 2015
In pure number terms, the fertilizer category still dominates all crop inputs/services among CropLife 100 ag retailers. In 2015, for Read More
Latest News
Crop Protection Products in storage
Crop InputsNewsweek: World Is ‘Awash In Glyphosate’
February 11, 2016
The world is awash in glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, produced by Monsanto. It has now become Read More
Crop InputsEPA: Let’s Talk Imidacloprid, Bees On February 18
February 11, 2016
EPA will hold an online technical briefing on its preliminary pollinator risk assessment for imidacloprid, a neonicotinoid insecticide, on Feb. Read More
ManagementThe latest on Syngenta-ChemChina Deal
February 11, 2016
Executive Editor Paul Schrimpf invites Jackie Pucci and Dave Frabotta from sister publication AgriBusiness Global to discuss the latest developments Read More
AdjuvantsUniversity of Illinois Confirms Adjuvant’s Perfor…
February 11, 2016
An independent University of Illinois study has shown that WETCIT adjuvant, now with TransPhloem technology, provides greater herbicide uptake and Read More
Crop InputsSyngenta’s Acuron Flexi Receives EPA Approval
February 11, 2016
Growers looking to control their toughest weeds with flexibility will have access to Acuron Flexi corn herbicide from Syngenta, now Read More
EquipmentAGCO Showcases White Planters 9800VE Series Planters AT…
February 11, 2016
AGCO unveiled the new White Planters 9800VE Series planter during the 2016 National Farm Machinery Show in Louisville, KY. The Read More
EquipmentCase Unveils 2000 Series Early Riser Planter At NFMS
February 10, 2016
Case IH revealed the all-new 2000 Series Early Riser planter to media and attendees at the opening of the National Read More
Syngenta Sign
Crop InputsSyngenta: Keep Ag In Mind During Election Season
February 10, 2016
As presidential candidates stake out their 2016 election platforms and key priorities, growers and their business partners should seek opportunities Read More
Crop InputsMarrone Bio Innovations Submits New Bio-Fungicide For E…
February 9, 2016
Marrone Bio Innovations, Inc. (MBI) today announced that it has submitted a new biological fungicide (MBI-110) to EPA. The broad spectrum Read More
Crop InputsWeed Expert: Adding A Second Herbicide Not Always Easy
February 9, 2016
In my last post, I reviewed some recent research that suggests one of the best ways to delay the evolution Read More
Crop InputsGenetic Literacy Project: Farmers Need More Herbicide C…
February 9, 2016
There are two things that I think just about every weed scientist can agree on, writes Andrew Kniss for The Read More
HerbicidesWeed Expert Warns North Dakota Growers Of Coming Herbic…
February 9, 2016
Ford Baldwin painted a bleak picture of weed control at a recent workshop here exploring the future of ag production, Read More
HerbicidesWSSA Announces New, Updated Free Web Resources
February 9, 2016
Today the Weed Science Society of American (WSSA) announced that new and updated educational materials for both weed scientists and Read More
Soybean field
FungicidesFour Arysta Fungicide Formulations Given FIFRA Approval…
February 8, 2016
Arysta LifeScience North America recently announced the issuance of Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Section 2(ee) Recommendations for Read More
FungicidesAgri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus Receives EPA Registrat…
February 8, 2016
Vivid Life Sciences has announced the EPA registration of Agri-Fos Systemic Fungicide Plus, a highly concentrated active ingredient phosphite fungicide, Read More
Crop InputsBayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Valuable Insecticide F…
February 5, 2016
Crop Science, a division of Bayer, has announced it has refused a request by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Read More
Wheat Field North Dakota
Seed/BiotechSyngenta Wins Seed Fraud Suit Against South Dakota Grow…
February 5, 2016
Syngenta has obtained a $25,000 settlement from Paul and John Mayclin, Mayclin Farms, Plankinton, SD, in response to their Plant Read More
ManagementOABA Annual Conference Wraps Up In Columbus
February 5, 2016
More than 300 Ohio AgriBusiness Association (OABA) members and industry professionals were on hand to engage in collaborative learning and Read More