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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, 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
In the last quarter of 2014, the project team focused their efforts in two main areas, data analysis and data dissemination. In terms of data, researchers used field data in an attempt to minimize power consumption, thus improving the overall lifespan of the sensors. The researchers verified the temporal properties of their system and aims to develop an abstract model that can aid researchers in automating the irrigation process using cloud computing platforms. Team members in the biological section developed a comparison analysis among samples generated from field data which will prove useful when comparing crop quality. They aim to present their research in a workshop in the late spring.

In terms of data dissemination, the project team participated in the Qatar Foundation Annual Research Conference ’14 in which they shared their work and spoke on new technologies related to minimizing water usage in agriculture. The researchers also started to develop an information retrieval system based on the mobile application dedicated to this system. The new mobile program will help the general populace retrieve relevant and valuable information in an easy way. Furthermore, the new system is also being developed to recognize relations among data, making big data more integrated and interconnected.

In the coming months, Dr. Samarah and his team will complete the implementation of the new mobile information retrieval system. A workshop is planned for April to share project data and experiences and the team plans to publish three research papers pertaining to modeling wireless sensor network for irrigation, data mining applications in minimizing water usage, and crop quality using automated irrigation systems.
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