Libelium, a technology leader in wireless sensor networks, announces a new Agriculture Sensor board for its Waspmote platform. The new board enables up to fourteen environmental parameters to be monitored in a wireless sensor network. This sophisticated monitoring brings extreme precision to crop growing in vineyards and greenhouses by enabling irrigation and climate control to be matched to local conditions.
The new Agriculture Sensor Board extends the award-winning Waspmote platform by supporting the measurement of the following key parameters: air temperature, air humidity, soil temperature, soil moisture, leaf wetness, atmospheric pressure, solar radiation, trunk/stem/fruit diameter, wind speed, wind direction and rainfall. The board allows more than ten sensors to be connected at one time. Libelium’s CTO, David Gascón says “A Waspmote sensor network using the new board can measure irrigation effectiveness, crop growth and micro-climatic conditions as well as detect adverse weather events”.
Local variations in soil, drainage and evaporation can mean that irrigation is not uniformly effective. For example it is possible that, within a vineyard, some vine roots are too dry while others are waterlogged. If three soil moisture sensors are simultaneously placed at different depths the local water retention in the soil can be assessed. By measuring evapotranspiration it is possible to work out how much irrigation water is being actually absorbed by the plants. Using sensor data to automatically adjust irrigation to match local conditions conserves water and is equally applicable to vineyards, greenhouses and golf courses. Avoiding over-watering also helps prevent certain crop diseases including rot, fungi and bacteria which thrive in wet conditions.
Precision agriculture aims to optimise production by taking account of local soil and climatic variations. David Gascón says, “This new board enables vineyards to be controlled with a finer granularity than existing precision agriculture techniques”. He explains, “Accurate dendrometers, capable of measuring changes in diameter of a few micrometres, allow the measurement of water intake of individual vines from irrigation. Using a PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) sensor checks the conditions for photosynthesis”. The Agricultural Sensor Board is also highly applicable to greenhouses where the creation and control of microclimates is important to the growth of delicate crops such as exotic fruit. For mushroom farming, Waspmote’s Agricultural Sensor and Gas Sensor boards can be used together to measure and control soil moisture and temperature, CO2 level and air temperature.
The board also supports meteorological sensors such as air thermometer, hygrometer, anemometer, wind vane and rain gauges (pluviometer). If the temperature falls below a threshold, heating can be automatically started by the wireless sensor network. Meteorological sensors can trigger warnings in the event of adverse weather such as high wind or torrential rain. Waspmote does not need to monitor values continuously and can spend long periods in a power saving mode. However if wind exceeds a threshold the anemometer will send a signal to wake up the Waspmote board. In hibernate mode the board consumes just 0.7 microamperes current resulting in outstanding battery performance. Should continuous measurement be required, a socket enables the board to be powered by a solar panel also available from Libelium.
Agricultural sensor networks using Waspmote send data using ZigBee (using 2.4GHz, 868MHz, 900MHz frequencies). The radio range depends on undergrowth but can be up to 12 km for line of sight links or up to 6 km for non line of sight. Alarms can also be sent to the mobile phone network using Waspmote’s GSM/GPRS board.
Waspmote users – such as agricultural consultancies - can add value layers to the platform by using the open source API and programming environment. This enables the platform to be easily integrated with third party applications. It can also be extended by addition of different types of sensor.
Waspmote was chosen by Sensors Magazine as one of the most exciting new products at the recent Sensors Expo & Conference in Rosemont, Illinois. Libelium received a Sensors 2010 "Best of Sensors Expo" Award in the Data Acquisition Products category.
About Wireless Sensor Networks
Wireless sensor networks (WSN) consist of small battery powered electronic devices – often known as “motes” – which gather data from built-in sensors. A WSN is self-organising allowing it to have high availability, scalability and simple installation. Applications include environmental monitoring, fire or gas detection, smart metering, farming, logistics and security.
Waspmote is a modular platform for building wireless sensor networks. The platform comprises: the Waspmote board with microcontroller, memory, battery, accelerometer and sockets for add-on modules; open source API and compiler; Xbee range of ZigBee wireless communication modules offer a choice of protocol versions, radio frequency and range (up to 40 km); wireless modules supporting Bluetooth, GPRS, GPS; a gas sensor board supports the detection of gases arising from industrial pollution, fires, farms and chemical and industrial processes; a physical event detector board support security, flood detection and vibration and impact monitoring; and outstanding power management - an unprecedented 0.7 microamperes is required in hibernate mode.
Waspmote is CE, FCC and IC certified.
Libelium (libelium.com) designs and manufactures hardware and communication protocols for distributed wireless networks. The product portfolio consists of the Waspmote low power platform for creating wireless sensor networks; the Meshlium multi-tech router integrating WiFi mesh (2.4GHz - 5GHz), ZigBee, GPRS, GPS and Bluetooth technologies; and N-vio platform for proximity marketing and messaging via Bluetooth.
The company was founded in 2006, is privately held and is based at the European Business and Innovation Centre CEEIARAGON, Zaragoza, Spain.
Press Contact: David Gascón, CTO Libelium, T: +34 976 54 74 92
Submitted by NeonDrum on behalf of Libelium
Nicky Denovan / T: +44 7747 017654