Department of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Dhaka, Bangaldesh
The agricultural production depends on many factors, including the seed and soil quality, the amount of water and nutrition parameters and the artificial or natural nutrients from agro-chemicals. Therefore, it’s a complex system involving multiple control parameters. The goal of this project is to address the main issues and problems associated with ‘Precision Agriculture’. The precision agriculture can have immense effect over the ecological and environmental balance by using reduced and accurate level of water, fertilizer, herbicides along with farm equipments. The sensor devices and GPRS based wireless data communication will be utilized for data collection process and a web based information system will be developed for presenting analyzed and processed information.
A. Significance of the proposed research:
Bangladesh is a small and developing country in the world. The activities and the development programs in its IT sector are rapidly increasing. The country has stepped into a new era of Digital World with a spectacular vision in digitalization. The government has declared to achieve “Digital Bangladesh” by the year 2021, in which the country will observe its golden jubilee. Every year, the government is spending a lot for the digitalization of its organizations. Being agriculture based economic country, this vision would be saddled by Precision Agriculture involving multidisciplinary initiatives of agricultural informatics, agricultural development and entrepreneurship towards building a hunger-free, resourceful and prosperous Bangladesh.
41 years into its victory of the Liberation War and despite its considerable effort in reducing poverty during the past decades, Bangladesh remains one of the poorest in the world. With 85% of the poor living in the countryside, poverty in Bangladesh is mostly at rural areas. With a vast majority of the rural population engaged in agriculture, agriculture and rural economy play a strategic role in accelerating economic growth and alleviating poverty in Bangladesh.
Agricultural sector is the key contributors to the national GDP of Bangladesh. Around 33% of the total GDP of the country comes from the agricultural sector in our country. But, most of the farmers of our country are still in lack of modern agricultural knowledge. People having access to ICT have better access to information, which put them in better position in economic activities. So, time has now come to exploit modern tools available related to electronics and information technology for improved economic and environmentally sustainable crop production. This goal is not new, but the adoption of newly arrived technologies, like sensor networking, cloud computing, low cost wireless information communication systems, etc., in agriculture fields would be a great step toward the productivity improvements.
‘Precision agriculture’ can be defined as – the improvement of crop performance and environmental quality by applying technologies and agronomic principles for managing spatial and temporal variability associated with all aspects of agricultural production. Precision agriculture focuses to the optimization of the field level management. It aims to solve problems that can be categorized into 3 groups:
a) Crop Science: The amount of fertilizer and pesticides needed, sufficient irrigation for crops, soil nutrition and ingredients needed for a particular crop etc.
b) Environmental Protection: Reduction of environmental risks, minimization of the side effect of applying fertilizer and pesticides, soil erosion etc.
c) Economics: Improvement of crop production with a relatively low cost, efficient way of producing crop in a short period of time and compete with others in the market etc.
In this project, we investigate the problem of designing and implementing the aforementioned services through latest sensor-based data collection systems, low cost wireless data communication systems, the Internet and cloud computing technologies. Such an integrated system would ensure the effective and efficient use of agricultural information, electronics, communication and computing technologies for analyzing, designing and implementing existing and innovative applications to help the agricultural sector. Precision agriculture helps in dissemination of gathered information to the farmers, mostly lived in rural areas, to use in their crop production methodologies and the policy makers to plan long-term priorities.
This project intends to increase the socio-economic development of Bangladesh, poverty alleviation, and efficient utilization of the resources.
• If the project is implemented, the crop production size can be increased through optimized use of the land, fertilizer and pesticides needed for the crops.
• It will also decrease environmental pollution through judicious use of the agro-chemicals.
• The irrigation system of our precision agriculture would decrease the soil salinity and thus increase its productivity.
• Agriculture is the largest source of employment for skilled and unskilled labors of our country. If our project is implemented, more agro-educated employees will be motivated to work for the development of our crop production system.
• The web based information and decision control system in our project would help to decrease agriculture system monitoring overhead for the farmers as well as for the field workers and the policy makers.
• Since our project decreases the operation overhead of the agriculture crop production monitoring and management system, the women workers may also get involved in precision agriculture system.
We believe that the abovementioned points are the crucial for our country and our project would work as a first step toward the digitalization process of the country.
This project has three folds of objects, described as follows:
The water level of the fields varies with time and the requirement is also different for different crops. Long time water logging is also harmful for crops as the underground minerals get dissolved with water and make the environment saline. Efficient irrigation system is highly desirable due to ever growing need for food and the diminishing water resources caused by climate changes. The existing technologies for the irrigation management do not provide with real-time information retrieval capability and thus limit both their applicability and effectiveness. In this work, we investigate a wireless sensor network based underground water level measurement and data collection, where the sensors are buried underground. Such a system has the potential to help reduce water application to the agricultural fields through accurate measurement of soil moisture status.
b) Soil Nutrition and Fertilization
Accurate measurements of soil nutrients are needed for efficient agricultural production, including site-specific crop production, where fertilizer nutrient application rates are adjusted spatially based on local requirements . The type and requirement of soil nutrients is different for different crops. If the required nutrient is not present in the soil for producing a crop, we apply fertilizer to remove the deficiency. Mineral nutrients are divided into two groups, depending on how much of it is required for normal growth and physical development.
Macronutrients: Comparatively they are needed in large quantities. 10 minerals are macro nutrients, they are: - Nitrogen (N), Potassium (K), Calcium (Ca), Iron (Fe), Magnesium (Mg), and Phosphorus (P).
Plants show special symptoms in case of deficiency of any element. These symptoms are called Deficiency Symptoms or deficiency disease. We can ascertain the deficiency of any element by observing these symptoms. If same crop is cultivated in the same field over the years, a particular type of crop only consume a specific class of nutrients. As a result, that class of nutrients gets diminished and other nutrients prevail in rich amount. Therefore, the balance of the soil is destroyed and we need to apply huge amount of chemical fertilizer which is harmful for the environment and threaten our ecological balance. Therefore, which nutrient is currently highly prevalent in the soil is also an important factor to decide what to cultivate. In this project, we deploy underground sensors for collecting various soil nutrition information from the fields and determine both the appropriate crop to cultivate and the best artificial nutrient elements to apply for better production.
(c) Web based Information System
We intend to develop a web based information system for the collected data so that it can be made available to farmers, stakeholders, govt. officials, researchers for further use related to precision agriculture system.
Our project supports agricultural works with IT through the flow sequence shown in Figure 1 (Data Collection -> Data Storage -> Analysis and visualization - > Reports, Advice and Policy formulation).
Technologies for input data:
• Position and time information from mobile SIM with GPS functions
• Soil moisture sensor
• Soil nutrition sensor
• Data mining scheme from the results of routine works
• Materials management technology
Data Collection and Storage
• Data generated from the sensor devices is first sent to a nearby sink, which is a wireless communication circuitry having a mobile SIM, programmable microcontrollers, tiny processor, small memory for temporary data storage purposes.
• The sink then sends the collected data to a specific mobile SIM which is connected with a centralized server through wireless mobile networks.
• Thus, the data sensed by field sensors is stored in a centralized server. For reliability purposes, multiple such servers and SIMs can be configured at the center.
1. Developed sensor for detecting Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), and soil water level detection.
2. Reading data from Nitrogen sensor (NO3-N and NH4-N) , Phosphorus (P), Potassium (K), water level detection sensor efficiently.
3. Effectively transferring data from sensor to database
4. Accessing data from the database and presenting data in statistical format in the website
Most relevant outcomes that are achieved by the project are:
1. Data Mining and knowledge discovery
2. Prototype Definitions
3. Drafting of optimal planting plans
4. Profit-loss calculations for each plot of land
5. Soil water level analysis and generation of advices for the farmers
6. Soil nutrition analysis and generation of fertilization advice reports for the farmers
7. Optimization of applying pesticides and herbicides and advice generations accordingly
8. and policy Cultivated land records for the scientists makers
9. Reports for the production histories
10. Soil contamination reports
11. Many more analytical reports required both by the farmers and the policy makers
A grand ceremony was organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Governement of Bangladesh for awarding the project grants to the recipients on 27 October, 2012 in Dhaka. In that ceremony, many professors from different public and private universities in Bangladesh, government officials, and scientist from different sectors were present there and appreciated our project idea. The honorable prime minister of the Government of Bangladesh presided over the ceremony.
This project collaborates with an agricultural research laboratory of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University (BSMRAU) where we visited several times and had seminar and lab works together. An website has been developed recently for publication of our project activities as well as the information repository of collected data.
A technical report and a research paper from the outcome of the project are now underdevelopment. We hope by the end of June 2013, we will be able to complete writing of technical report and research paper.
We have got a research project grants from Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) for evaluating some of the parts of our project.
Md Abdur Razzaque