In an effort to take the potentially significant environmental aspects of rice production into consideration, many farmers with an innovative mindset are recognizing the need to increase efficiency so they can grow more rice using fewer resources. One popular method among rice farmers is called alternate wetting and drying (AWD), which is a rice farming method that combats many of these environmental hurdles. Rather than maintaining a constant four-inch flood, AWD lets fields dry down between floods after establishing the initial release. AWD reduces water, fuel, and electricity use for irrigation pumps and need for nitrogen fertilizers by mitigating the amount of time fields remain flooded, while slowing down anaerobic activity that develops methane gas.
Farmers and researchers collaborating to optimization methods of AWD have discovered that (when properly implemented), this practice can increase yields, while minimizing fertilizer and water inputs, along with GHG emissions. AWD has posed somewhat of a challenge to farmers, since it requires very careful control of water levels across large plots of land. In addition, this also imposes risks to rice crops, since it can be difficult to accurately evaluate depth with a small number of measurements to represent various points in these fields. As a result, these barriers have prolonged the adoption of AWD.
Farmers have turned to innovators like AT&T, whose IoT solutions to connect water-level sensors and pumps can boost the control they have over these irrigation operations, to help improve overall efficiency, and surmount barriers slowing AWD adoption. PrecisionKing is an innovative technology company working with AT&T, whose RiceKing sensors are being placed across farmer’s rice fields to read water levels every hour, allowing 24-hour monitoring while PumpKing remote monitors enable farmers to establish custom parameters to remotely turn pumps on and off.
AT&T wireless connections between these equipment pieces, enable water-level data transmitted, to be collected from RiceKing sensors, and sent to a management system that programs and automatically signals AT&T-connected PumpKing monitors to turn pumps on and off when necessary. This reduces water usage, while preventing over-flooding or excessive drying, without the need for anyone to be physically present in the field. The system also creates a historical record of water depth over time. Using more available high-quality data, farmers can better optimize management, thus ably reaping the benefits of AWD. Since these sensors generate such precise information regarding water depth, farmers can easily collect data required to verify AWD-enabled GHG emissions reductions.
By using AT&T’s wireless network to connect these sensors and pumps, this immensely simplifies data collection and avoids any need to install wired to complex mesh network solutions. Adding AT&T and IoT connectivity to AWD also enables more efficient and reliable AWD processes, increases ease of use, and drives financial savings from water reduction.
Filed Under: M2M (machine to machine)