Remote monitoring for wireless sensor-based irrigation system in Malawi

In the recent years there has been an increase in the application of Wireless Sensor Networks (WSNs) in agriculture, specifically aiding automatic application of water, chemicals and fertilizers to the field. Since WSNs are still under development stage, they are at times unreliable, power hungry, fragile and they easily lose communication. Intrinsically, any irrigation system based on WSNs requires close monitoring to guard against any horrendous mishaps. However, monitoring such an irrigation system which, usually, is located at a rural site can be expensive and time consuming. In this paper we developed an efficient, cost-effective and real-time wireless based remote monitoring mechanism for a WSN based Irrigation system situated in Manja Township within Blantyre city. The system archives data that include the soil moisture potential, link performance, electrical power levels, and valve status and subsequently sends the information as a text message over a cellular network to a remote monitoring site located at the Malawi Polytechnic. The remote station has a broadband wireless dongle which is interfaced to a MYSQL database via an open source FrontlineSMS. The information is graphically published on a web browser with the help of a PHP script. Preliminary results demonstrate that a WSN based irrigation system can be monitored remotely at a low cost and in real time.