Improving Nature Restoration and Eliminating Agriculture Water Waste With LoRa Technology
This post was written and posted by Semtech on Inside Out: Semtech’s Corporate Blog
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Only 3% of the world’s water is accessible freshwater*. Of that, more than 600 gallons per day per person in the U.S. is being diverted for farm irrigation and livestock use. Monitoring soil moisture levels helps farmers to make effective and smart irrigation decisions. Too much water in the soil leads to waterlogged areas and a potential for plant illness or death, while too little water will harm crop growth.
Jurriaan Ruys is the founder of Land Life Company, a nature restoration company with a mission to reforest the world’s two billion hectares of degraded land. The organization develops new technologies to restore habitat in parts of the world where nature cannot come back unaided and has leveraged Semtech’s LoRa® devices and wireless radio frequency technology (LoRa Technology) in its Internet of Things (IoT) solutions for commercial farms. The company currently has teams on three continents and reforestation projects in over 25 countries.
Land Life utilizes drones and satellite imagery to analyze the land during the planning stage. Its innovative Cocoon production process plants trees more efficiently and at a larger scale.
To ensure the Cocoon provides just the amount of water needed for trees to survive, the company needed a sophisticated moisture sensor system with the ability to provide data in remote areas of the world. Ruys searched the existing market and could not find a suitable, practical solution: wireless, remote, easy to deploy, and scalable. He and his team decided to build a solution and Sensoterra was born.
Sensoterra is a low-cost, wireless and remote system that offers farmers real-time insight into the soil moisture condition of their crops. Soil is not homogenous – it holds moisture differently in various areas. With low-cost, plug and play probes that can be deployed across a large field in more areas, the data becomes more valuable and results in smarter irrigation decisions.
The company utilizes Semtech LoRa-enabled sensors in its probes and a LoRaWAN™ infrastructure provided by Senet, a leading provider of global connectivity and IoT network service provider. Sensoterra primarily focuses on the North America and European agriculture markets and has deployed over 4,000 sensors and achieved over 720,000 data points since the product launch in 2016. Sensoterra’s solutions are now being deployed in Australia, South America and other parts of the world.
Ease of installation is a key feature of Sensoterra’s soil moisture system. LoRa-enabled multi-depth probe sensors can be installed in a matter of minutes and data is viewable online within an hour after installation. A free app is available for download and can operate on a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. Users have the ability to manage their installations through an easy to use dashboard and an open API is available for data integration.
Being able to capture soil moisture data remotely was certainly critical for Land Life Company, but Sensoterra soon discovered there was a need for this type of system in agriculture, horticulture and landscaping. For instance, an Idaho potato grower uses Sensoterra’s system to manage pivot irrigation. The farmer reduced 30% of his water consumption by decreasing irrigation rounds based upon soil moisture metrics.
Recent drought conditions across north America and Europe, has led to an uptick in city governments looking to monitor water consumption.
There’s a case for these cities. During summer months with low rainfall, costs for irrigation in public parks, golf-courses and other green areas, skyrockets. However, over irrigation is still a concern, with dwindling freshwater resources seen in metropolitan areas across the world. By introducing the Sensoterra solution, cities can reach an estimated reduction in labor costs and recouped system expenses from water savings within three months.
*U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation
LoRa is registered trademark or service mark, and LoRaWAN is a trademark or service mark, of Semtech Corporation or its affiliates.