SBIR Phase I: Wise-Irr: Smart Irrigation via Wireless Underground Sensors
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
7120 Woody Creek Ln, Lincoln, NE, 68516-3033
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) Phase I project investigates the feasibility of novel wireless underground communication technologies for real-time agriculture field monitoring to establish the proper timing and amount of irrigation for greatest effectiveness. Existing solutions cannot be widely adopted due to their high costs and disruptive operations. This SBIR Phase I project leverages novel underground communication techniques developed as part of an NSF CAREER award to commercialize smart irrigation management solutions and validate business hypotheses. An underground communication system was innovated based on empirical and theoretical underground communication models. The resulting underground communication design is employed to provide communication ranges of up to 85m from an underground sensor to a center pivot irrigation system. Accordingly, this SBIR Phase I project focuses on two main research topics: (1) Error Control: An adaptive error control scheme is devised to provide reliable communication under varying environmental conditions and (2) Sampling Scheduling: Effective soil moisture sampling scheduling algorithms are developed to improve the lifetime of an underground sensor network and minimize operational costs. Based on these innovations, the devised systems will feed real-time soil information into irrigation management systems for improved crop for drop. The broader impact/commercial potential of this project is significant in facilitating more efficient irrigation management technologies through real-time soil information provided by wireless underground sensors. Currently, 40% of the world's food is produced by irrigated agriculture, and 70% of all available water is used for agriculture irrigation. The increasing demand for food and the emerging scarcity in freshwater resources increase market demand for more efficient water management tools to improve crop per drop. Out of the 56.8M-acre of irrigated farm lands in the US, about 53.7% (30.5M acres) are irrigated by center pivot systems with 8.5M acre irrigated land in Nebraska. Proper irrigation management will help prevent economic losses caused by over- or under-irrigation; movement of nutrients, pesticides and other chemicals into the groundwater and other water bodies; and wasting water resources and energy consumption. The novel wireless underground communication techniques reduce the operation costs significantly compared to existing systems. Accordingly, farmers can make better-informed irrigation application (timing) decisions without the need for tools that obstruct field operations, thereby significantly reducing costs and improving water efficiency. The developed wireless underground communication solutions will have significant impacts on the commercial development of systems that operate in confined environments.
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