The Internet of Things Makes Irrigation Smarter and Simpler
California-based Mist Labs developed AgPulse, a sprinkler controller for in-ground sprinkler systems, to optimize irrigation for farms, orchards, vineyards, as well as backyards and gardens. It’s a wireless internet of things solution that uses a set of sensors to continuously monitor environmental factors to optimize water distribution through its irrigation system.
AgPulse uses low-power, long-range wireless technology to collect data from sensors placed throughout the property. The soil moisture sensors are placed at multiple depths within the soil in order to track water absorption by plant root systems and to make irrigation adjustments on-the-fly to prevent overwatering. Additionally, the system’s sensors monitor temperature and sun intensity. But, AgPulse uses more than just sensors to control watering. It also integrates local weather forecast data as well user-defined watering preferences like restrictions on watering at certain times or days.
Users can monitor and control the system from anywhere using a mobile device. The accompanying mobile application provides full control over the sprinkler system, including manually turning on/off water zones, setting restricted watering times, and other advanced water customizations.
The product is a timely solution as many large agricultural areas are experiencing extended draught. In fact, the system offers “drought mode” setting which can be used when available water supplies are scarce. When selected, it allocates the minimum amount of water needed to keep drought-vulnerable plants alive, using up to 80% less water in some cases.
“Manual irrigation and record-keeping can cause large discrepancies in watering,” said Mist Labs CEO Matt Kresse. “AgPulse creates an immediate opportunity for farmers to understand and conserve water usage, leading to optimized costs and yield.”
Once the AgPulse design was complete and ready to bring to market, Mist Labs needed a manufacturing partner capable of producing injection-molded parts with a high-strength polycarbonate material. The team won the Cool Idea! Award and allocated the service grant towards an initial production run of molded parts. This was a crucial point for the business as they already had orders coming in that needed to be fulfilled.
“We’re scheduled to deploy a large number of units on farms in 2016, establishing a solid customer base that will set us up for success in the future,” said Kresse. “Without winning the Cool Idea! Award, we would not be where we are today.”
With farmers looking for new ways to cut operating expenses and water becoming more valuable each day, AgPulse is a valuable solution that is easy to deploy and effective. And, with rapid injection molding, the company was able to meet its ambitious time-to-market goals.