Customer Stories / From the Ground to the Cloud: Optimizing Irrigation

From the Ground to the Cloud: Optimizing Irrigation

"We needed an easy and secure way to get data from the ground to the cloud and into our application. Digi International offered everything."
-Isaac Bentwich, CropX CEO

From the Ground to the Cloud: Optimizing Irrigation

Demand for water continues to grow; it’s increased 60% every decade for the past fifty years. Within twelve years, over two thirds of the world is expected to experience water shortage. Water shortage has far-reaching and imminent implications, since over 40% of the world’s food is provided by irrigated agriculture.

CropX is the world’s most advanced irrigation software service, delivering dramatic water and energy cost savings and increased crop yield. CropX’s system “listens to the ground” and provides each part of the field with exactly the right amount of water that it needs at any given time. The service saves 10-20% of the water used in irrigation of large fields.

Business Challenge

CropX wanted to deliver dramatic water and energy cost savings and increase yield to farms by optimizing irrigation. In addition to optimizing efficiencies and yields for farmers, CropX set out to create a system that could make a positive impact on water conservation. Unlike current irrigation systems that waste a lot of water by watering fields evenly, CropX’s system “listens to the ground” and provides each part of the field with exactly the right amount of water that it needs.

“Our pattern-recognition analysis methodology and algorithms thoroughly analyze the field, its soil structure and its condition. This all happens in the cloud,” said Isaac Bentwich, CropX CEO. “We needed an easy and secure way to get data from the ground to the cloud and into our application. Digi International offered everything—from the XBee® DigiMesh® radios to the gateway with Device Cloud by Etherios™ built in. The end-to-end solution made our decision easy and our path to getting our solution to market faster than we ever imagined.”

But, no matter how high-impact the system, farmers need to be able to run their business. They don’t have time to deal with stringent technical requirements or complex setup and use rules.

Solution

Humidity sensors are placed in the ground and connected with XBee DigiMesh 2.4 radios that relay information to a centralized ConnectPort® X4 gateway. The ConnectPort X4 curates the data and sends it over a secure connection to Digi Device Cloud. Device Cloud then sends actionable information to CropX’s smartphone and web application.

In the cloud, CropX’s pattern-recognition analysis methodology and revolutionary algorithms and software thoroughly analyze the field, its soil structure and its current condition to determine the right amount of water each part of the field needs. The data drives automatic adjustments and instructs the irrigation system to turn water on and off accordingly.

The farmer can view the irrigation maps and status on his or her mobile phone or the web interface, and with few clicks modify as needed—from anywhere in the world.

Results

Quick Implementation: The farmer downloads the mobile app and simply places three sensors in the ground, guided by the app. That’s it.

Water Conservation: The service saves 10-20% of the water used in irrigation of large fields, by real-time analysis of these differences and applying different amounts of water to different parts of a field accordingly.

Operational Costs: There’s no need for CropX to utilize costly communication servers or IT engineers to maintain the system. Instead, CropX can focus on deploying the solution in remote areas. Device Cloud enables CropX to eliminate costly communication servers and high maintenance costs. Therefore, connecting more farms no longer means more resources. CropX can grow its business with confidence knowing that cost and scalability of the system is totally under control.

Low Development Costs: The CropX system is the result of years of research by New Zealand’s Landcare Research Institute. New Zealand Institute was able to launch experiments quickly and easily using the ConnectPort X4 programmable gateway, which integrates all types of sensors with a high level of customization. Application development on Device Cloud was fast thanks to well-documented web services. These allowed CropX to focus on developing its world-leading irrigation automation technologies: sophisticated cloud computing data-analysis that determines daily the right amount of water each part of a field needs, a user-friendly mobile app that empowers the farmer and integrated smart soil sensors.

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