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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Optimizing water usage of irrigation systems using wireless sensor networks in Jordan

PI: Samer Samarah (Yarmouk University), with co-PI Mohammed Ghazi Al-Zamil (Yarmouk University)
U.S. Partner: Mehmet Can Vuran (University of Nebraska)
Project Dates: August 2013 to July 2015

The aim of this project is to develop an automatic irrigation system using wireless sensor networks. When water is applied to the soil it seeps down through the root zone very gradually. Each layer of soil must be filled to "field capacity" before water descends to the next layer. If only one-half the amount of water required for healthy growth is applied at a given time, it only penetrates the top half of the root zone; the area below the point where the wetting front stops remains dry as if no irrigation has been applied at all. Over irrigation also leads to yield loss and wastes valuable resources. Wireless sensor networks consist of a set of small devices, called sensors, deployed within a specific area to form a network that is able to sense and collect readings from the surrounding environment. Sensed data is then routed to a well-equipped device called the sink, which provides an interface to the network and delivers useful information to the application. Deploying sensor nodes capable of determining the field capacity at each layer within a planted field helps to determine the optimal amount of water that should be pumped. As the proposed wireless sensor network will generate data from the field and control the irrigation process, a mining model will be developed to extensively analyze the collected data to help in understanding the irrigation patterns that will act as a feedback to optimize the use of water resources.
In order to achieve the main goals of this project, the Jordanian researchers involved will collaborate with a partner from the United States who has implemented a similar project. Cooperative activities will involve exchange visits and the organization of summer workshops at the University of Nebraska for the graduate students working on the project. Moreover, the researchers will conduct a workshop at Yarmouk University and attend conferences to present their efforts and resulting outcomes. In addition, in the last phase of this project, the researchers have allocated three months for documenting their experience in the form of paper-based documentation, brochures, and videos. One of the main contributions that this project offers in Jordan will be to provide a website that displays real-time data, summaries, and timely recommendations that will provide individuals and institutions with a vast amount of valuable new information. As part of the project, team members will also develop a mobile application that will further facilitate the distribution of knowledge.
Summary of Recent Activities
The project started with designing and testing the wireless sensor network needed to transmit field data to the research team. The design model was optimized to allow data mining techniques to analyze the collected data from the wireless sensor network. This analysis would allow for algorithmic description of solutions required in this field such as predicting missing values during collision in wireless media, cleaning and transformation of data, and clustering and classification of data. Simulation models were run to test the data design.
At the time of their last report, the project team was expecting the wireless network hardware and software tools to be delivered by February 2014. Meanwhile, planning of the greenhouse and planting procedures have been developed. The research team will be conducting training sessions on the Campbell software package for a group of students for the purpose of developing monitoring and control applications. In addition, they will be organizing an April workshop to introduce the PEER project to the broader community. A visit to U.S. partner Mehmet Can Vuran is planned for late April or early May, with the aim of gathering ideas that could be applied to the research.
Back to PEER Cycle 2 Grant Recipients