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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 November 2015

Project Website: 

2-366_Part of the research team at IT's scientific day at Yarmouk University
Research team at IT's scientific day at Yarmouk University. Photo courtesy of Prof. Samarah
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
During the first quarter of 2015, the research team developed an analytical data model that induces time-based patterns of data. This model will be useful to predict the behavioral aspects of the irrigation process, which the team expects to complete in May 2015. The researchers also added additional services to their existing mobile application to enhance the visualization of data and thus better serve expert and amateur users. This has all been reflected on the project’s website, which the research team is continuously updating with experimental field data.

The team also published two research papers for the 6th International Conference on Ambient Systems, Networks, and Technologies (ANT-2015) and the International Workshop on Mobile Cloud Computing Systems, Management, and Security (MCSMS 2015) in London. The first paper discussed the integration of wireless sensor networks with cloud computing infrastructure based on results of the project. The second paper covered concurrency issues that arise as a result of simultaneous interactions among different software components. The ultimate output of these papers provides the basic technical solutions to the smart irrigation process in Jordan.

In the coming months, the team will focus on organizing the second Jordanian PEER Science workshop jointly with the PEER team from the Jordan University of Science and Technology. The workshop will be held on April 8, 2015, in Amman and representatives from the USAID Mission will be invited to attend. The team will also complete a time-based analytical model for extracting behavioral patterns from the collected dataset and organize a workshop at Yarmouk University to discuss their overall project results.
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