A robotic irrigation system for urban gardening and agriculture

  • Ioannis Gravalos | gravalos@teilar.gr School of Agricultural Sciences, University of Thessaly, Larissa, Greece.
  • Avgoustinos Avgousti School of Agricultural Sciences, University of Thessaly, Larissa, Greece.
  • Theodoros Gialamas School of Agricultural Sciences, University of Thessaly, Larissa, Greece.
  • Nikolaos Alfieris School of Agricultural Sciences, University of Thessaly, Larissa, Greece.
  • Georgios Paschalidis School of Agricultural Sciences, University of Thessaly, Larissa, Greece.

Abstract

Water supply limits and continued population growth have intensified the search for measures to conserve water in urban gardening and agriculture. The efficiency of water use is depended on performance of the irrigation technologies and management practices. In this study, a robotic irrigation system was developed that consists of a moving bridge manipulator and a sensor-based platform. The manipulator constructed is partly using open-source components and software, and is easily reconfigurable and extendable. In combination to the sensor-based platform this custommade manipulator has the potential to monitor the soil water content (SWC) in real time. The irrigation robotic system was tested in an experimental soil tank. The total surface of the soil tank was divided by a raster into 18 equal quadrants. The water management for maintaining water content in the soil tank within tolerable lower limit (refill point) was based on three irrigation treatments: i) quadrants whose SWC is below the refill point are irrigated; ii) quadrants are irrigated only when the daily mean SWC of the tank is below the refill point and only for those whose actual SWC is lower than that limit; and iii) quadrants are irrigated every two days with constant amount of water. A comparison of the results of the three irrigation treatments showed that the second treatment gave less irrigation events and less applied water. Finally, we could conclude that the performance of the fabricated robotic system is appropriate and it could play an important role in achieving sustainable irrigation into urban food systems.

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Published
2019-11-27
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Original Articles
Keywords:
Farming automation, intelligent irrigation, soil moisture sensor, single-board microcontroller.
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How to Cite
Gravalos, I., Avgousti, A., Gialamas, T., Alfieris, N., & Paschalidis, G. (2019). A robotic irrigation system for urban gardening and agriculture. Journal of Agricultural Engineering, 50(4), 198-207. https://doi.org/10.4081/jae.2019.966