Testbeds

Overview

Many grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts grow on trees (e.g., apples, citrus, almonds) or are planted in rows (e.g., corn, soybeans, wheat, sorghum, cotton, peanuts, lettuce, strawberries,). IoT4Ag ‘sense-communication-response’ technologies are evaluated in two Testbeds: Integrated Systems for Precision Farming of 1) Tree Crops and 2) Row Crops. These testbeds in Indiana, Florida, and California are used to assess and demonstrate IoT4Ag solutions in the different agricultural environments of orchards and row crops, many of which are mainstays of the food supply chain. IoT4Ag technologies are being deployed in fields in phases from control facilities to plot and field scale university testbeds and then to our industry and agricultural partners.

Testbed 1
Testbed 1
Testbed 1: Integrated Systems for
Precision Farming of Tree Crops
Testbed 2
Testbed 2
Testbed 2: Integrated Systems for
Precision Farming of Row Crops

Purdue University Testbed

The Purdue IoT4Ag testbed is located at the Agronomy Center for Research and Education (ACRE) a few miles from the campus in West Lafayette, IN. The ACRE farm consists of 1600 acres, about half of which is used each year for research trials while the remainder is farmed with uniform treatment and rotated with the research plots. At ACRE the primary research crops are corn, soybeans, sorghum, wheat, and popcorn.

 

The facility is well equipped for deployment of IoT4Ag technologies. Power, networking, and weather monitoring equipment are reasonably well distributed around ACRE. Purdue IoT4Ag researchers have been developing the IsoBlue Avena software stack, which integrates several open-source applications to create a sensor data messaging system, which can be deployed across the universities, testbeds, agricultural machines, and fixed sensor installations.

University of Florida Testbed

The IoT4Ag testbed environments in Florida are located at various Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) sites and are currently supporting several projects in early stages of development. To prepare for on-farm testing and deployment of IoT4Ag technologies, UF testbed leaders are actively engaged with agricultural producers to plan for future testing and demonstration. Engagement with these producers also provides an opportunity for the IoT4Ag center to learn about their perceptions and needs.

To prepare for deployment of sensor technologies in the Florida testbed environments communication systems and associated risk assessments are underway at the University of Florida. Ultimately, IoT4Ag aims to install common LoRaWAN gateways across IoT4Ag testbed locations in Florida, Indiana, and California in order to facilitate opportunities for IoT4Ag researchers to easily connect their systems at any IoT4Ag test site. At the Florida testbed locations, IoT4Ag plans to implement RTK-GPS systems that will enable cm-level corrections and highly accurate georeferencing for any projects testing systems that require these corrections. 

University of California, Merced Testbed

The UC Merced testbed consists of two sites: The first site is an 8 acre pistachio orchard located south of Merced, California with 8 years old trees. The second site is a private 22-acre almond orchard at North West of Stevinson, California. This site includes 5 years old trees with some variability in soil type.

At this testbed, IoT4Ag researchers have designed and fabricated several sap-flow and trunk moisture sensors, light sensors, and low-power weather stations and developed software and hardware for Wi-Fi towers and data storage servers. However, these two tree crop sites have limited or no internet coverage, representing a realistic scenario and challenge for deploying IoT technologies in agricultural environments. Internet coverage at the pistachio site has been expanded by installing three Wi-Fi range extender towers in different places in the field and setting up a data server to collect sensor data from the field. In the Almond orchard where there is no internet coverage, a local data storage server has been specifically designed for this field and a battery-powered weather station that measures the ambient temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure was installed. As the trees get larger, they will become significant obstacles to the continuous connectivity of wireless systems and diminish the reliability, effectiveness, and range of the previously installed wireless systems in the field. Therefore, IoT4Ag plans to update and upgrade the wireless network based on the annual tree size changes in the testbed.