Typical soil health assessment requires intensive field sampling and laboratory analysis. Although this approach yields accurate results, it can be costly and labor intensive and not suitable for continuous tracking of soil properties. Advances in soil sensor and wireless technologies are poised to replace physical sampling and offline measurement with in-field monitoring. This article reports the development, deployment, and validation of an Internet-of-Things (IoT) system for continuous monitoring of soil health. The end nodes of the proposed system, called soil health monitoring units (SHMUs), are solar powered and can be installed on a field for extended periods of time. Each SHMU transmits soil temperature, moisture, electrical conductivity, carbon dioxide (CO2), and geolocation data wirelessly using long-range wide-area network (LoRaWAN) radio technology. Data are received by a LoRaWAN gateway, which uploads it to a server for long-term storage and analysis. Users can view acquired data through a Web-based dashboard. The following significant experiments were carried out to validate the developed system: 1) a network consisting of eight SHMUs was deployed at an agricultural field site for several weeks and soil health metrics were analyzed using the soil health dashboard; 2) the flexibility of the system was demonstrated by the addition of an extra CO2 sensor allowing an additional variable directly linked to soil health to be recorded; 3) a wireless communication range of 3422 m was estimated at a transmission power of 10 dBm by deploying the developed system on a large field; 4) the average current consumption of a SHMU (including its associated sensors) was estimated to be 13 mA, at this rate, the onboard Li-ion battery is able to sustain a SHMU for several days; and 5) a 7 cm $\times6.5$ cm solar panel was able to fully charge the onboard battery in 14 days while supplying power to the SHMU.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
ACKNOWLEDGMENT The authors express gratitude to Jay C. Young, Superintendent of the Throckmorton Purdue Agricultural Center, Purdue University, USA, for providing access to the test site. Financial support for this work was provided by the Universidad Nacional de San Agustin (UNSA) through grant: Nexus Institute for Food, Energy, Water and the Environment.
Dr. León-Salas received the CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation in 2011.
© 2014 IEEE.
- Internet of Things (IoT)
- environmental monitoring
- long-range wide-area network (LoRaWAN)
- real-time systems
- sensor systems
- soil measurements
- solar power