Smart irrigation technology presents an IoT use case not necessarily new. But it is a market suddenly exploding with new startups to feed what data from researcher Hexa Reports. estimates could reach $43.4 billion by 2025 for the broad market (including software applications.) As water demand continues to outpace supply, farmers are turning to technology including soil-moisture probes to help with conservation.
One leading example of how smart irrigation can equally help conversation efforts and farmers through increased yield is from a tech-enabled farm near Holcombe, Kansas. It produced 241 bushels per acre using 5.75 inches of water. This compared to adjacent farmers who reported lower yields using far more water: one produced 233 bushels an acre, using 14.12 inches; the other harvested 222 bushels an acre, using 13.5 inches of water.
One particular smart irrigation startup is WaterBit. It provides the ability for farmers to measure groundwater at multiple depths and multiple points in a field at a cost around $2,500 an acre or less for the hardware. As with IoT use cases, data is captured and transferred to an internet service where it is analyzed and used to control watering schedules. The IoT application communicates with valves, turning them on and off as necessary, depending on the plant requirements. Unlike other IoT solutions, Waterbit’s sensors use solar power versus short-lived batteries.
Also published on Medium.