The shortage of water resources forces the need to introduce irrigationmanagement systems, especially on acorporate scale, in order to rationalize and optimize the use of water in agriculture. In this regard, it has been developed a corporate electronic system of irrigation management able to “collect” the different information coming from the field and process it according to defined agronomicprocedures able to establish with precision the time of irrigating and the corresponding volume water required for the industrialcultivation of tomatoes. The processing of such information (when and how much water) is subsequently transferred through a wireless connection to the corporate center. The system is able to plan the corporate irrigation by monitoring the degrees of soil moisture acquired through FDR wirelesssensors(Frequency Domain Reflectometry) appropriately positioned in the cultivated soil. Each sensor is combined to a transmitter and to a small solar panel capable of ensuring an autonomous power supply over time. The transmitter sends radio frequency of the moisturemeasurements collected from the sensor to a receiver, which transfers the data to the process unit of the Automated System.
To transmit signals from the field sensors,ZigBeeradio technologies have been used. The ZigBee is a wireless protocol (802.15.4) by low energy consumption, which can connect with each other a high number of communicatingunits and this makes it particularly suitable for many application scenarios, which do not require a high data rate. Moreover, since the sensors are installed in the field, where there isn’t the availability of a continuous power supply, particular attention was paid to the development of intelligent electronics for the management of the power supply, provided in a combined manner by durablelithium batteries and photovoltaic panels.
The innovation in the first place could have as recipient, the company Zerillo that would benefit, in the medium term, in a water-saving quantified in approximately 20% (200,000 m3 / year) less than the ordinary consumption of water and, secondarily, it is believed that the experience gained by the Zerillo company, can act as a “flywheel” and represent, for the other companies of Apulia, avalidalternative or supplement to the actual management system of irrigation.
The possibility of enhancing the proposed innovation using different sources,either groundwater resources (corporate well), orsurfacesources (consortiumwaters), allows an application in manydifferent agronomic scenarios,extending new possible”users” to the system.
Also in terms of developing market potential, we should consider that the current system of local consortiumdistribution of irrigationwater, is the head of the Consortium for the reclamation of the Capitanata, and up to today serves only 40,000 hectares compared to an agricultural area of 250,000 irrigablehectares.
We believe that sound management of water resources, namely management that takes account of the relationship between water, food and energy, is fundamental to ensure the right to food for all;