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Controlling irrigation in a container nursery using IoT

1 Edisto Research & Education Center, Clemson University, 64 Research Road, Blackville, SC 29817, USA
2 University of Arkansas – CES, 2301 South University Avenue, Little Rock, AR 72204, USA

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The demand for water has increased while the supply has been stagnant. This may be attributed to population growth, land-use dynamics and climatic factors. The availability of a sustainable source of water for food production is forecast as a critical issue facing agriculture. The recent EPA Strategic Plan emphasized the need to ensure waters are clean through improved water infrastructure and sustainably manage programs to support the different uses of water. This plan though broad dictates the need to develop new technologies that can help optimize the use of water via sensor-based irrigation. The goal of this project was to design a prototype irrigation controller using the internet of things (IoT). The controller is a closed-loop design which uses the soil moisture data to turn on and off the irrigation system based on specified thresholds. The data and control was hosted in an online IoT platform. The IoT platform provides real-time monitoring and control via a simplified online Graphical User Interface (GUI). The system was developed at the Sensor and Automation Lab of Edisto-REC, Clemson University and then field tested at McCorkle Nurseries in Dearing, GA during summer 2017. During the four month field test a number of challenges were identified including signal transmission and hardwire connections although overall, the prototype achieved the six objectives established for the system.
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