AgriTalk is an inexpensive IoT platform for precision farming of soil cultivation. We conduct experiments on turmeric cultivation, which indicates that the turmeric quality is significantly enhanced through AgriTalk. Specifically, the curcumin concentration is up to 4500-5500 mg/100g, which is 5 times more than existing products. We demonstrate how to intuitively configure the connections between the sensors and the actuators with the desired farming intelligence, and to effectively maintain AgriTalk for precision farming. We conduct measurement, analytic analysis, and simulation experiments to investigate the IoT message delays of AgriTalk. Our study indicates that the delays for automatic control and automatic-manual control switching with long distances (more than 30 Km) are very short (less than 0.2 seconds) and AgriTalk can easily respond to quick and dynamic change of the field environment conditions in soil cultivation.

Precision Soil Farming

Today, most lands suitable for farming are already in use. To increase the volume with the limited crop cultivation resources, we need to improve production efficiency through precision farming. Many IoT techniques have been utilized to improve crop cultivation. Specifically, IoT sensors collect data to monitor soil quality, weather conditions, crop growth, and so on. The IoT switch devices control the agriculture actuators such as spray, drip irrigation, repellent lights and so on. Through the interaction between the sensors, the controllers and actuators, an IoT system automates the irrigation, fertilization, and pest control processes, which assists to provide better crop growth for accurate crop product distribution.

Based on AgriTalk, we have established several IoT-based farming fields in Mountain Bao in Taiwan. This paper uses turmeric cultivation as an example to show how AgriTalk provides precision farming. We utilize different farming methods in three fields to grow turmeric. Fig. 1 shows the aerial photos of three turmeric Bao-fields of the sizes 112.5m², 307.5m², and 600m², respectively. In the photos, some IoT devices (weather station sensors and smart irrigation system) can be seen from the air. Field Bao-2 exercises bag cultivation in an open field. Bao-3 is an open soil-based field. Bao-4 exercises bag cultivation in a shaded field. In each field, we have fully or partially exercised precision farming to study the effects of AgriTalk. This work investigates farming from the viewpoint of IoT, and would like to encourage the farmers to accept the IoT technology by reducing the costs of AgriTalk implementation with high reliability and availability.

Precision Farming by AgriTalk

AgriTalk provides precision farming by allowing the farmer to automatically and remotely manage the irrigation and the pest control systems. AgriTalk includes several agriculture IoT devices (Fig. 2 (1) and (2)) connected to the control boards called “AgriCtls” (Fig. 2 (3) and (4)). An AgriCtl board is an Arduino microcontroller board that controls the connected IoT devices. An AgriCtl board connected to the sensors is called SensrCtl (sensor control board; Fig. 2 (3)). In the cloud, the AgriTalk server (Fig. 2 (5)) including the IoTtalk engine (Fig. 2 (6)) and the AgriGUI (Fig. 2 (7)) is deployed to configure the IoT devices with analytical capabilities, in-built accounting/reporting features, and powerful dashboards/controls that can be accessed remotely through smartphones (Fig. 2 (8) and (9)). To develop IoT-based precision farming, it is essential to select appropriate sensors and actuators. Depending on the crops to be grown, the types of information to be collected determine the IoT devices to be deployed. The quality of the IoT devices is critical to the accuracy of the collected data and its reliability. Several IoT devices are utilized in AgriTalk, including the weather station and the soil sensors for precision monitoring, and the cultivation actuators for irrigation, pest control and fertilization. Although we have developed these IoT devices, AgriTalk can flexibly accommodate commercial IoT devices if they have better performance and/or lower prices.