Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020OK194B

Soil Monitoring through UAV-Assisted Internet of Things Wireless Underground Sensors

Institute: Oklahoma
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-03-01 End Date: 2021-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $25,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $50,000

Principal Investigators: Sabit Ekin

Abstract: Internet of Things (IoT)-based soil monitoring technologies result in conservation of limited water resources and reduce many associated environmental issues, such as the salinization of irrigated lands and leaching of nutrients and chemicals due to over-irrigation. In current soil monitoring solutions, although the sensor is placed in underground, the wireless communication module (including data logger and antenna) is installed above the ground due to limitations in communication range and data rates. However, installment of these devices above the ground can severely impact the operation of farming machinery. Therefore, only a small fraction of producers uses these sensors in their routine decision-making. In case of irrigation scheduling, the most recent Farm and Ranch Irrigation Survey conducted by the US Department of Agriculture showed that only 11% of Oklahoma farms used sensor technologies. The range and data-rate of wireless communication drastically decreases when sensor communication modules are placed underground. Further, it is impractical and economically infeasible to install multiple IoT base stations within short distances. To overcome this challenge, we will mount our IoT base station on an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that hovers above the sensor and collects its data wirelessly. This unique UAV-assisted approach has never been attempted before, but has several benefits that remove all the major hurdles from communicating with IoT underground sensors. For one, there is no need to build, deploy, power, or maintain numerous base stations around the smart field.The objective of this research project is to develop a proof-of-concept soil monitoring system with wireless underground IoT sensors and UAVs by leveraging expertise in the nexus of electrical engineering, aerospace engineering, and biosystems and agricultural engineering. The proposed project will involve field experiments and software and hardware implementation of UAV and IoT systems for soil monitoring. The objective of this project will be met by conducting the following key tasks:1)Develop a UAV-assisted IoT-based wireless underground soil sensing system including integration of sensors, communication modules, and an IoT base station mounted to a UAV.2)Indoor system validation and testing for communications (e.g., data rate, range) between the IoT sensors and the mobile base station mounted on a UAV.3)Perform field testing and performance validation with different soil types, moistures and depths.