Case Study: Controlling quality of irrigation water with IoT to improve crops production

The quality of irrigation water, as well as the correct management of water resources, is essential for the productivity and efficiency of the crops. Controlling and analysing water before irrigating is crucial and its quality may vary significantly depending on the time of the year. So frequent measurements are recommended.

The Spanish company GMV has developed a water quality monitoring system based on Libelium technology. The nodes were installed at the “El Portal” irrigation dam, located on the Guadalete river where it passes through Jerez de la Frontera (Spain).

Location of Jerez de la Frontera

GMV, which was founded in 1984, has wide experience in hi-tech sectors with a growing order book in all five continents. It has experienced an important technology transfer along its trajectory and nowadays the company focuses its efforts on two business lines: transport and telecommunication sectors and applications of information technologies.

The regional government detected a high cost of maintenance of the old measurement equipments along with high costs of transport and possible inconsistencies due to manual handling of the tools.

“El Portal” irrigation dam at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

The main goals of the project were to reduce the costs of measurement and data network management as well as to avoid manual processing that may lead to inaccuracy. In the same way, the electrical consumption of the previous equipment had a handicap to solve, together with the fact that this location usually suffers from frequent acts of vandalism against power lines, automatically ceasing the normal functioning of the monitoring system.

GMV and the regional government of Andalusia trusted Libelium technology to deploy this project to monitor different water quality parameters in an irrigation dam on the Guadalete river, close to Jerez de la Frontera.

Installation of the Waspmote Plug & Sense Smart Water sensors

Two measuring nodes Waspmote Plug & Sense! Smart Water were installed in the location to measure levels of temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen and conductivity every 30 minutes. Sigfox was the protocol chosen by GMV, with a view to enlarge the deployment in the future.

Waspmote Plug & Sense! Smart Water at “El Portal” dam

The data collected by the sensors is sent to the proprietary software SEMS (Smart Environment Monitor System), which allows monitoring of any kind of parameter, managing sensors, executing custom queries, managing users, reporting alarms and many other operations.

Diagram of GMV project

This platform gives the irrigators access to real-time information on water quality to help decision-making in aspects such as the opening and closing of gates or the hours when water quality is higher. Additionally, manual collection is not necessary anymore so access to the information is now easier and quicker.

GMV highlights the adaptability of the Waspmote wireless sensor platform to any need and any environment along to the interoperability and compatibility with Sigfox and the low electrical consumption, which were ideal for the challenge they had to face.

GMV SEMS dashboard for the Andalusian Government

This new water quality monitoring system meant savings of around 50% in development time. The company is currently carrying out a technical report to present the results obtained after controlling the deployment in terms of sensorisation cost savings.

The Andalusian government (Junta de Andalucía in Spanish) was satisfied with the project carried out by GMV using Libelium technology and was also pleasantly surprised with the performance of the sensors and the cost savings that its implementation on a larger scale could entail.

Ángel Cristóbal Lázaro, head of Development Area at GMV South Region, commented that “working with Libelium devices has been a success for the project. The learning curve of the development environment has been minimal and there is a good perception of product quality”.

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