Successful deployment of a wireless sensor network for precision agriculture in Malawi

This paper demonstrates how an irrigation management system (IMS) can practically be implemented by deploying a wireless sensor network (WSN). Specifically, the paper describes an IMS which was set up in Manja township, city of Blantyre. Deployment of IMS in rural areas of developing countries likeMalawi is a challenge as grid power is scarce. For the systemto be self-sustained in terms of power, the study used solar photovoltaic and rechargeable batteries to power all electrical devices.The systemincorporated a remote monitoring mechanism through a General Packet Radio Service modem to report soil temperature, soil moisture, WSN link performance, and photovoltaic power levels. Irrigation valves were activated to water the field. Preliminary results in this study have revealed a number of engineering weaknesses of deploying such a system. Nevertheless, the paper has highlighted areas of improvement to develop a robust, fully automated, solar-powered, and low-cost IMS to suit the socioeconomic conditions of small scale farmers in developing countries.