Water is a precious resource and its use, both for people’s consumption and for agriculture purposes, is increasing greatly. The shortage of water, resulting from the growth of the world’s population, has been an enormous challenge and concern.
Aiming to tackle this growing problem, Fraunhofer Portugal AICOS and Aquagri, have partnered to develop a new soil monitoring solution: LoRa4UProbes (Long Range Communication for Underground Sensing Probes).
The project, under development, is aligned with the Internet of Things (IoT) concept and can be easily integrated in different irrigation contexts such as precision farming use cases. LoRa4UProbes aims to contribute to a sustainable use of water.
The LoRa4UProbes kicked-off in mid-2021 and consists of the development of a system able to be kept underground, with connectivity and sensing which allows the collection, remotely, of data regarding the soil, namely the level of humidity. A first prototype developed by FhP-AICOS is currently being tested. The sensing module has been placed underground and the involved team is continuously collecting data, testing and evaluating the connectivity (picture).
By being developed as a solution with extended range communication capability, able to operate underground, and modular to support different sensing modules, LoRa4UProbes stands out in the market of soil monitoring for agricultural areas and public spaces. Although existing sensing probes* already make use of wireless communication technologies to send collected soil data to a central server, the innovative characteristics of the LoRa4UProbes are related to the implementation of hardware equipment with extended communication range (from below the soil’s surface) and offering support to multi-vendor sensing probes. These features allow the gathering of data without the need of being close to the solution, offer better protection to its components, and is compliant to different probes available in the market.
Within the LoRa4UProbes, FhP-AICOS is responsible for the technical management of the project which includes the development of the electronics comprising a LoRa-based communication module, interfaces and protocols to multi-vendor sensing probes and of the casing to house these electronics.
*Probe is a device used to obtain specific information for diagnostic or experimental purposes.