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This potato grower upgraded from manual reactive to real-time proactive irrigation monitoring for greater productivity

July 26, 2018

Based in Cambridgeshire in the United Kingdom, an Ely-based customer of 30MHz produces potatoes, onions and wheat. An accurate understanding of field soil moisture levels is crucial to the grower’s potato quality and volume of production. Irrigation impacts potato harvests at every stage of development, from determining how many tubers form, to impacting the size, quality and durability of potatoes. With high affinity for water, and a low water holding capacity, the fate of the potato harvest is significantly influenced by irrigation strategy.

Until recently, the customer relied on manual sensors to monitor arable soil moisture. On a weekly occasion, manual plunge sensors measurements were taken across all the fields, data from which would be sent to a spreadsheet. Not only was this process of data gathering work intensive (juggling multiple spreadsheets) and time consuming, it had severe limitations in the insights it offered, based on one data point in time. After deploying the 30MHz smart sensing platform, the grower now has live real-time data in charts, visualizations, heatmaps and custom alerts, with continuous updates accessible remotely on any device. Metrics on soil moisture are captured by wireless sensors, transmitted over a private mesh network, with 100% uptime and the option the scale at any time. Solar powered repeaters strengthen the network in the open field, enabling the grower to get visibility on far away fields. Real-time updates enable the grower to quickly respond to changing soil conditions, saving time on manual measurements, saving fuel in tractor deployments, saving water by irrigating only when conditions demand and, supporting the development of more optimal, sustainable crops.

Real-time remote monitoring helps optimise irrigation. Until recently, due to bad weather, the grower irrigated in a clockwise rotation. With real-time monitoring, he can deploy much more effectively, in response to changing conditions. The 30MHz platform can clearly demonstrate when a field needs irrigating. The grower is also able to observe that some crops are absorbing moisture more quickly than previously, based on different root growth and a more generative state of development.

 

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