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February 02, 2018

How the IoT is Making Farming in India More Efficient


When you think about India you might think about its reputation as a call center hub. Or perhaps software coding comes to mind, as the U.S. outsourcers a lot of its work on that front to developers in India. Then again, maybe the country’s giant and growing population – at more than 1.3 billion, just below China – is top of mind.

But you probably don’t know much about India’s farming industry. And there’s a good reason why. While farming is a high-tech industry in other parts of the world such as the U.S., farming in India is still typically a very localized and low-tech endeavor.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s study  America’s Diverse Family Farms, 2016 Edition, million-dollar farms now account for half of farm production here in the U.S., up from a third in 1991. And the average size of a U.S. farm last year was 442 acres, according to Successful Farming.

Meanwhile, in India, most farmers have just two or three acres. If they’re really lucky, they may have as many as 30. The way farming is done in India greatly varies from place to place. And the farmers in India face a variety of challenges.

Those challenges include limited water, irregular and limited availability of electricity, and effectively managing the above resources (plus fertilizer) so there’s a little waste as possible while ensuring the crops get what they need to produce good yield. Water management is a complex dance that includes flushing the water filter for efficient water delivery; avoiding or minimizing over-irrigation, which can cause crop problems, fertilizer to leach, and ground pollution; managing water from multiple sources, which many include bore-wells, open wells, and ponds; and monitoring and managing irrigation in over and/or under voltage conditions. And often this management must be handled during odd hours.

Avanijal Agri Automation systems were created to address these ?problems. This solution includes water-level sensors and multiple motor controls in a field, as well as one controller. Information from all of the above enables farmers using Android smartphones with the company’s app to monitor a variety of things.

The system monitors the pressure of the pipeline. If no water is pulsing through it, the system automatically shuts and alerts the farmer to the situation. Also, the solution can sense when drip systems are due to be cleaned. And it automatically triggers the drip system cleaner and keeps the farmer aprised of the situation.

Additionally, the solution can support up to four fertilizer tanks. This setup allows for the efficient mixing of fertilization and configuration of the fertilizer system.

Plus, the system keeps records of all of these factors, so farmers can keep a history and track trends over time. The company plans to introduce data analytics capabilities for its solution in the near future.

This solution leverages Qualcomm’s CSR1010 QFN Bluetooth Low technology to connect valves and sensors, and as part of the infrastructre needed to measure soil moisture so the system knows whether or not to irrigate. This Qualcomm solution, which has a 50- to 60-foot range, enables ultra low-power connectivity and basic data transfer. And Qualcomm’s CSRmesh technology enables Bluetooth nodes to work as a mesh network, enabling hops between nodes to allow for kilometers of coverage.

The Avanijal Agri Automation promises to provide farmers with savings of between 25 and 50 percent. Users of the basic solution can expect to receive a return on investment in about year. Those with higher end systems should have ROIs with two or three years.

The company, which has been working on its solution for about four years, has sold seven of its systems since making the technology available about a year ago. The system can support an area of more than 100.

The basic version of the system costs between $200 and $300 minimum per acre. Most of those users are in the area of Bangalore.




Edited by Ken Briodagh


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