Connected Avocado

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I’m actually lucky and am already getting to see how the Internet of Things will change my life. My family owns an avocado farm and we are constantly trying to find ways to grow more efficiently. One of the things we have been doing is adding soil moisture sensors. Utilizing soil moisture readings is a good way to determine when and how much to irrigate. Avocados do not like to work hard for their water but do not like to be moist all the time either. Irrigation scheduling through soil moisture analysis improves efficiency and can lead to improved quality, yield and profits. Soil moisture monitoring provides insight into how hard the trees are working for water, gives detailed information about the changing soil moisture status and indicates when crops are at risk of stress and require irrigation. Soil moisture data gives information about movement of water down through the root zone. Irrigation using soil moisture readings applies water when it is needed and where it is needed in the area where roots are established or desired i.e. in the upper 8 inches for avocados. Managing root zone moisture not only helps use water efficiently, it helps make decisions on when to apply fertilizers. When decisions are made based on information gathered through monitoring, nutrients remain in the rooting zone until absorbed by the plants instead of being pushed out through excessive irrigation. By not over irrigating when applying fertilizer, the fertilizer is prevented from leaching into ground water. Distribution of the water into the avocado root zone depends on the soil’s ability to transmit water laterally, which can be problematic in decomposed granite soils. Emitters with a large spread pattern are required to ensure water will move throughout the root system. Soil moisture monitoring helps to take the guess work out of this process. Monitoring can also help protect crops from salinity. The majority of the irrigation water comes from the Colorado river and is relatively salty. Given that avocados are not a salt tolerant crop, it is critical to keep salinity in check. In areas where salinity is a factor, the outward and downward wetting front pushes salts away from the effective root zone. If this process is not continued, salts can move back into the root zone and damage crops. You might not think a farm irrigation solution needs to be secure. Water is such a precious resource we have to make sure the control process is very secure. We are using the Zigbee protocol with encryption to maintain secure links. We also have monitoring in place to see if water is being used when it shouldn’t. The farm is just one example of how I see the Internet of Things changing my life. I’m excited to see what else the future has in store and hope to someday make a documentary on it all. I’m actually lucky and am already getting to see how the Internet of Things will change my life. My family owns an avocado farm and we are constantly trying to find ways to grow more efficiently. One of the things we have been doing is adding soil moisture sensors. Utilizing soil moisture readings is a good way to determine when and how much to irrigate. Avocados do not like to work hard for their water but do not like to be moist all the time either. Irrigation scheduling through soil moisture analysis improves efficiency and can lead to improved quality, yield and profits. Soil moisture monitoring provides insight into how hard the trees are working for water, gives detailed information about the changing soil moisture status and indicates when crops are at risk of stress and require irrigation. Soil moisture data gives information about movement of water down through the root zone. Irrigation using soil moisture readings applies water when it is needed and where it is needed in the area where roots are established or desired i.e. in the upper 8 inches for avocados. Managing root zone moisture not only helps use water efficiently, it helps make decisions on when to apply fertilizers. When decisions are made based on information gathered through monitoring, nutrients remain in the rooting zone until absorbed by the plants instead of being pushed out through excessive irrigation. By not over irrigating when applying fertilizer, the fertilizer is prevented from leaching into ground water. Distribution of the water into the avocado root zone depends on the soil’s ability to transmit water laterally, which can be problematic in decomposed granite soils. Emitters with a large spread pattern are required to ensure water will move throughout the root system. Soil moisture monitoring helps to take the guess work out of this process. Monitoring can also help protect crops from salinity. The majority of the irrigation water comes from the Colorado river and is relatively salty. Given that avocados are not a salt tolerant crop, it is critical to keep salinity in check. In areas where salinity is a factor, the outward and downward wetting front pushes salts away from the effective root zone. If this process is not continued, salts can move back into the root zone and damage crops. You might not think a farm irrigation solution needs to be secure. Water is such a precious resource we have to make sure the control process is very secure. We are using the Zigbee protocol with encryption to maintain secure links. We also have monitoring in place to see if water is being used when it shouldn’t. The farm is just one example of how I see the Internet of Things changing my life. I’m excited to see what else the future has in store and hope to someday make a documentary on it all.

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