Using Microcontrollers to save water on farms

- 2 mins

Since taking agricultural science in high school, I’ve become interested in sustainable farming and more specifically, the utilization of technology to optimize farming efficiency.

One of the green solutions that I have invested time researching, stem from problems that I observed farmers were experiencing in my area. Due to the high mountains that surround the villages where I live, farmers are faced with a two pronged problem, getting water to their farms in the mountainous areas and the utilization of far more water than is necessary when they manage to do so. This is because the weather forecasting services are unable to accurately predict weather in mountainous areas, since the mountains themselves create localized disturbances (rain, thunderstorms, etc) which are very spontaneous.

A potential solution to help reduce the amount of water utilized on the farms, involve the use of portable weather stations that are able to measure the air humidity, soil humidity, rain drops, and temperature. These devices would help the farmers save water by providing accurate readings for the specific area around their farms. The readings would help to lessen both the amount of water required to be transported to the farms and the amount of petrol used to transport it there due to the weight reductions. The cost of normal portable weather stations can run into the thousands of dollars; however, due to advances in Microcontroller technology, it is now possible to construct a portable weather station from a microcontroller and sensors costing tens of dollars. One of the most popular microcontrollers used to create these portable weather stations is called an Arduino Uno, which I have previously purchased and experimented with. I am also interested in the possibility of adding evapotranspiration sensors to the Arduino Uno’s that could inform the farmers of the rate by which moisture is returned to the air through evaporation from the soil and transpiration by plants.

The microcontrollers also provide a means for storing the data collected, which could result in long term benefits for farmers, both in mountainous and flat regions, by uploading the data to a potential open, shared data storage service. There, the information could be analyzed by volunteer data scientists and researchers, thus resulting in further optimizations as Artificial Intelligence technology and Data Wrangling techniques improve.

I believe water conservation is a very important issue, and as its scarcity increases around the world, this, and other similar solutions may become an absolute necessity.

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