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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
 
Six members of the project team attended a workshop at the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) on April 3, 2014, part of the 5th International Conference on Information and Communication Systems (ICICS 2014). Approximately 100 participants from universities, non-governmental organizations, and small-to-medium enterprises were briefed on the two Jordan-based PEER Science projects (this one and another one based at JUST on climate change). While ICICS was taking place, nine members of the research team presented a research paper at the 2nd International Workshop on Cloud Computing Applications and Security, which was held in Irbid, Jordan. On April 9, the team also gave a presentation about the project at Yarmouk University’s Scientific Day, an annual meeting conducted by IT faculty.
 
On the experimental side of the project, the wireless sensor network hardware has been delivered and installed, and a preliminary test on the readings has been conducted. The team developed a self-regulating software application within the control system for the irrigation system, which uses inputs from the sensor readings. In addition, a greenhouse has been built and stocked with tomato plants. A researcher from the biology department has been tasked with collecting biological data from the plants to study the effect of controlled irrigation.
 
The next phase of the project involves both field-based and information technology-related activities. At the time of their most recent report, the project team planned to attend the International Conference on Next Generation Computing and Communication Technologies in Dubai (April 23-24, 2014). Other goals for the summer include creating a training program on development of Android mobile phone applications, developing a mobile application for timely distribution of data, working on a classification model for the data being collected, and adding a programming section to the project website.
 
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