This article is a translation of the german article Digitization project is launched by Ralph Scheyer.
The project deals with new ways of transmitting and processing sensor data in horticulture and agriculture. The focus is on decentralized data storage (DLT) via the Internet of Things (IoT). To explore possible applications, a test installation based on a water meter is being set up on the campus of Geisenheim University of Applied Sciences in the experimental greenhouse of the LLH. The aim is to investigate whether a completely tamper-proof transmission path can be implemented using the technology employed. As a first application, the possible real-time visualization of the data via the GeoBox viewer will be tested.
The test installation consists of a water meter with GPS module and pressure sensor. On a module developed by peerOs, the acquired sensor data is encrypted into the IOTA protocol and partitioned into the necessary data size. These data packets are then sent to an LTE gateway via LoRa radio and from there written to the Tangle. From this Tangle, which is to be understood as a standardized data interface, the real-time visualization of the data is then realized via the GeoBox viewer.
The digital water meter – basis of efficient irrigation
The installation of the mentioned technology is intended to demonstrate the benefit of digital water meters for efficient irrigation.
In the last few years, which have been characterized by drought, it has become apparent that it would be advantageous to be able to call up the current and past water consumption in irrigation systems online in real time. With most existing systems, it is not possible to draw conclusions about the amount of water consumed until the meter readings of the analog water meters have been evaluated at the end of the season. By documenting the meter readings digitally, an early response could be made to any overages of allocated water allowances. In addition, collecting real-time water use is the basic requirement for calculating and implementing irrigation recommendations based on a climatic water balance. In irrigation systems, depending on the number of irrigations running in parallel, the pressure in the system changes and thus also the amount of water available at a tapping point. The target value of an irrigation system can therefore not be defined by the pure runtime of the irrigation, but must be controlled by irrigation volume. Only by the exact collection of the given water quantity the calculation of the climatic water balance and thus the efficient use of the resource water becomes possible.
With the installation of a pressure sensor, one would additionally be able to collect real-time information about pressure conditions in the pipe system. This information could be used to weigh up whether it makes sense from a performance point of view to start another irrigation. It could thus be prevented that the pumps integrated in the piping system run outside their optimal range of action and thus make the irrigation energetically inefficient. By combining the water meter with a GPS module, it is possible to specifically allocate the measured water consumption to the respective crops and thus create a product-related water footprint.
In addition to the direct benefit of the test installation as a demonstration object for consulting, education and research, the focus of the undertaking is on network building. The knowledge and networks gained will serve as a basis for further developments in this field.