As of 2019 the global population sits around 7.7 billion people. From that number, over 2.5 billion suffer from water scarcity in one form or another. According to the World Health Organization, 50% of the global population will be affected by water scarcity by 2030.
Approximately 70% of all available clean water on the planet is used in irrigation systems. This system is fundamentally broken as 60% of that water is wasted during operations by land runoff, evapotranspiration or simply inefficient usage. To combat this waste, intelligent and responsive irrigation systems must be implemented to reduce the loss of clean water. RF Mesh Networks, powered by the internet of things (IoT), offers an efficient and cost-effective method for Smart Irrigation.
What is Smart Irrigation?
Smart Irrigation systems provide feedback to irrigation controllers from a variety of sensors, enabling intelligent and autonomous control of water valves. These systems primarily use sensor data to determine soil moisture levels, which in turn transmits information to operate irrigation valves. The sensors connect to irrigation controllers with cables or wirelessly via a cellular connection. This solution enables customized irrigation patterns that can reduce water waste by up to 60% from traditional irrigation practices.
As stated above, traditional irrigation practices used by farmers and specialists are wasteful. The city of Barcelona recognized this and launched a Smart Irrigation project which uses sensors and weather stations to optimize the exact amount of water needed for their city parks. This solution saves the city $480,000 USD in irrigation costs annually.
Mesh Networking in Smart Irrigation
Radio Frequency (RF) Mesh Networks reduce water waste by wirelessly monitoring and controlling irrigation systems with a radio frequency separate from cellular or satellite signals. RF Mesh Networks integrate any irrigation controller or sensor into a single system, functioning as a wireless irrigation trigger and/or data collection bank. By collecting data from a multitude of sensors, users can analyze and build customized watering schedules and/or create triggers that automatically activate irrigation valves depending on sensor readings. By collecting and analyzing the data, this is a way to implement Precision Agriculture techniques.
The three key benefits RF Mesh Networks offer Smart Irrigation on a global scale are as follows: Elimination of Wires and Cables, Cellular Free Connections, and Scalability.
Elimination of Wires and Cables
RF Mesh Networks inherently eliminates wires and cables. The network operates by connecting mesh nodes to devices such as sensors and/or irrigation controllers, wirelessly building a network where each device is a connection point. The RF Mesh Network self-configures, building the most efficient path. It automatically heals any interruption or dropped signal by finding a new configuration. Using a 2.4 GHz Radio Frequency, Orbis Mesh Networks replace the cables or wires needed for irrigation valves or sensors while allowing real-time data to be sent to an RF gateway for collection and analysis, enabling Precision Agriculture.
Removing cables and wires from an area minimizes the impact of irrigation systems on farm or field operations. Installation costs are also reduced, as the RF Mesh Network eliminates the cost of laying cable. Watch the video below to learn how reduction in cables has benefited the University of British Columbia in their agricultural monitoring research.
Cellular Free Connections
RF Mesh Networks offer communities with underdeveloped infrastructure freedom from cellular networks. This is vital in both agrarian communities and the urban communities developing Smart City Technology. This eliminates compounding costs, (as cellular connections incur annual or monthly usage fees), and the regional restrictions of SIM cards. This technology is more cost effective than cellular options upfront and long term.
Communities without access to cell service can use RF Mesh Networks to reduce wastage costs while saving water in their communities. Eliminating reliance on 4G or LTE-M networks (The traditional wireless connection signal for sensors/controllers and gateways), removes costs and regional limitations, enabling easy installation and usage.
RF Mesh Networks are simple in their topology. Devices connect to each other building a network which strengthens as it grows. This design allows for the network to easily be scaled up or down. If a mesh node is within range the network will automatically connect to it, allowing the network to grow up to hundreds of meters. The design enables massive amounts of data to be transmitted instantaneously, all while being accessible from a single point.
Want to learn more about Mesh Networking in Smart Irrigation? Orbis Mesh offers irrigation specialists, golf courses, farmers or researchers the opportunity to eliminates cables for sensors and valves while building a network compatible with all sensors and systems. The Orbis Mesh Nodes are a cost-effective unit, incurring no airtime charges with use.
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