Supervisor: Dr. Simon Winberg
Co-supervisor: K. O Awodele
Mobile Crop Quality Sentinel (MCQS)
What the Project is about?
Agriculture is the art and science of land cultivation for the purpose of crop production, raising of livestock, and distribution of the products to consumers in the most efficient way. With recent technology upgrades, it is possible to produce agricultural implements with high processing efficiency and storage capacity, thereby making food more readily available for the masses. The intelligence levels of machines have increased through these technology improvements, particularly connecting with the concepts of Industry 4.0, such as continuous data accumulation and analysis and application of specialized Cyber Physical Systems. Following this approach the different sections of an agricultural production line can be linked, working symbiotically to achieve greater efficiency. This project focuses on the design of the Mobile Crop Quality Sentinel (MCQS) system, which is designed around these new approaches to production to propose a cost-effective solution for monitoring and controlling agricultural production, providing a comprehensive analysis of the contextual complications, the mechanism needed to realize this system and the cost and the anticipated power consumption of the system, to deliver an advisory system for farmers.
Background and Motivation
Agricultural automation is a potential contributor to improving productivity, reducing consumption and adverse impacts. Effective use of automation will help maximize production by using better inputs and will also reduce waste from agricultural production. This helps to make food available all year round to maintain the social-economic state of the nation. With the drastic changes in the agriculture industry, it is necessary to develop automated systems to monitor and control agricultural processes. Monitoring, filing and gathering environmental information over long periods of time, for remotely located farms is labour intensive and technically challenging. Other challenges of agricultural production include unfavorable climatic conditions, poor processing, handling and storage of agricultural products.
The potential impact of the project is that it would mitigate the challenges of poor timeliness, stress and wrong judgment that detract from efficient production. This would see a rise in potato farming which means jobs will be created for the people of the country as more potato farms will be cultivated. Furthermore, the rise in potato production would lead to a drop in the price of potatoes as there will be large supply coming in from the farms. This will make food crops affordable for South Africans.
What is Missing from Exiting Work?
From my recent literature survey, it was found that much work has been done on the deployment of sensors to monitor environmental parameters but the following aspects have been missing:
Costing analysis of the wireless monitoring system has not been investigated which is vital since any farmers oriented system should be affordable.
Power consumption analysis of the monitoring system is another cogent aspect that needs to be investigated at this time. The analysis must be able to advise the farmers on efficient power sources for farms that are distant from the power grid.
Objectives of the project
The following are objectives of the research project:
Investigate various existing techniques for sensing and networking agricultural farm land.
From the existing techniques, design an efficient sensing, networking, implementing and maintaining system.
A set of performance metrics such as latency, throughput and load will be used to simulate the results over a specified period.
Design a cost-effective and power efficient system for monitoring potato farm land.
Design an advisory system based on the modeled system
The designed system will consist of wireless monitoring sensors for sensing temperature, humidity and moisture content. The sensor nodes will communicate with the gateway using ZigBee technology, and the data packets will be sent from the gateway to the base station using WiMAX technology. The costing and power consumption of the sensors, protocols and other components and will be analyzed. A website will be developed which farmer can log in to have concrete information about the costing and power consumption analyses for a particular wireless sensor system for a particular crop.
The type of crop and farmland that will be considered for this project is potato farmland, hence there will be the need for further researchers to consider other types of crops such as wheat and maize which are among some of the most common crops grown in the Western Province of South Africa.
Dr Simon Winberg
Tel: +27 (0)21 650-2793
Menzies Building, Library Road, Upper Campus
University of Cape Town