The Application of LoRaWAN as an Internet of Things Tool to Promote Data Collection in Agriculture
Information about the conditions of specific fields and assets is critical for farm managers to make operational decisions. Location, rainfall, windspeed, soil moisture, and temperature are examples of metrics that influence the ability to perform certain tasks. Monitoring these events in real time and being able to store historical data can be done using Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as sensors. The abilities of this technology have previously been communicated, yet few farmers have adopted these connected devices into their work. A lack of reliable internet connection, the high annual cost of current on-market systems, and a lack of technical awareness have all contributed to this disconnect. One technology that can better meet the demand of farmers is LoRaWAN because of its long range, low power, and low cost. To assist farmers in implementing this technology on their farms the goal was to build a LoRaWAN network with several sensors to measure metrics such as weather data, distribute these systems locally, and provide context to the operation of IoT networks. By leveraging readily available commercial hardware and opens source software two examples of standalone networks were created with sensor data stored locally and without a dependence on internet connectivity. The first use case was a kit consisting of a gateway and small PC mounted to a tripod with 6 individual sensors and cost close to $2200 in total. An additional design was prepared for a micro-computer-based version using a Raspberry Pi, which made improvements to the original design. These adjustments included a lower cost and complication of hardware, software with more open-source community support, and cataloged steps to increase approachability. Given outside factors, the PC architecture was chosen for mass distribution. Over one year, several identical units were produced and given to farms, extension educators, and vocational agricultural programs. From this series of deployments, all units survived the growing season without damage from the elements, general considerations about the chosen type of sensors and their potential drawbacks were made, the practical observed average range for packet acceptance was 3 miles, and battery life among sensors remained usable after one year. The Pi-based architecture was implemented in an individual use case with instructions to assist participation from any experience level. Ultimately, this work has introduced individuals to the possibilities of creating and managing their own network and what can be learned from a reasonably simple, self-managed data pipeline.
- Master of Science
- Agricultural and Biological Engineering
- West Lafayette