on May 6th, 2021
A laid-back lifestyle on a farm in the Philippines is not only ideal, but simpler than you may think due to the Internet of Things (IoT).

At its most basic level, IoT connects electronics and everyday objects to a wider infrastructure that allows those devices to intelligently interact with the world around them. Whilst it is currently revolutionizing the way big business operates, IoT can also be applied on a much smaller and personal scale.

For EIT’s Senior Developer Mark Cupitt it is a lifestyle and one that made the development of his personal farm simple and potentially effortless. From initially imagining a water management system for his farm, Mark is now at a point where nearly every drop is accounted for.

View from Mark Cupitt's Farm

To ensure effective utilization of the property, water-saving techniques for irrigation and measuring of water ingress, tank capacities, and water usage required an IoT system specific to the property.

“I believe that IoT offers an inexpensive alternative for farmers in developing countries. My focus is on research and development and I’ve used my farm as a test site,” says Mark.

This means he’s always looking at enhancing IoT measures on his piece of land.

“Rainfall is a very key metric, and if you bear in mind that in the tropics a large percentage of rainfall is delivered via thunderstorms, but the downpour can be arbitrary,” explains Mark.

For him, it’s not unusual to see large areas that experienced good rain, next to an area with nearly no rain on his farm.

“I have integrated my weather stations into what we do, we are looking at thunderstorm detection capability since a large source of our water is from thunderstorms,” he explained.

Mark uses AI to determine whether a thunderstorm will pass or hit them and then he modifies irrigation based on the predictive analysis of historical weather data. What is important for this to be effective is active data that considers temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure that improves thunderstorm predictions.

Core areas in the application of IoT is sensing, middleware and actuation (Terrill,2018). In the sensing stage, devices interact with their physical world and provide insight into what is around it. Middleware is the stage where IoT frameworks use communication and data analysis from the sensing part of the process. It is finally the data processing that spills over into actuation where key areas are identified and improved decisions can be made. 

It sounds simple when you break it down into three areas, but as Mark experiences, IoT can always improve.

“Simple solar-charged devices that control gravity-fed irrigation fed by a LoRaWan is my ultimate goal. This will allow an AI-based device to determine water delivery quantities throughout the property.”

Mark is also busy developing his IoT-based thunderstorm tracking technology that will assess the likelihood of rainfall delivery. This will also include inexpensive rainfall measurement devices throughout the property that will detect hyper-localized rainfall when dense thunderstorms are taking place.

“This will all be fed via Wi-Fi and LoRaWan to a central AI-based computer, which can be a Raspberry Pi, which in turn knows the water delivery locations and the valves that open irrigation delivery,” Mark explains.

By using store-bought components and solar power, this system is cost-effective, something IoT should ideally entail. Mark initially wanted this system commercialized, but he will rather pay it forward when the system is in place and open source the plans, software, and BOM lists for other farmers or property owners that need similar irrigation technology.

As the future internet evolves, it is the contributions of Mark and others that ensure the global infrastructure is so well-versed with what is going on, everybody’s lives will be simple and effective with hyperlocal information at your fingertips.

References

Terrill, Trevor Jon (2018). Advancements in the Industrial Internet of Things for Energy Efficiency. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from https : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /173673.

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