Honors College Thesis

The Implementation of Passive RFID Tags to Sample Volumetric Water Content for an Autonomous Irrigation System

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  • The agricultural industry in the Western United States continues to possess issues of overwatering, accounting for over 80% of consumed water per year in the country. While technologies such as satellite imaging and sensor networks have slowly improved irrigation Best Management Practices to reduce superfluous water consumption, limitations associated with these technological advancements include complex designs, high installation and equipment costs, and intensive maintenance labor. A proof-of-concept autonomous irrigation system installed at Peoria Gardens aims to alleviate these shortcomings through the use of cheap passive RFID tags from SmarTrac, which utilizes RFMicron’s environmental sensing technology to sample moisture value of its surroundings. These tags, calibrated using Adafruit Capacitive Soil Sensors, are placed in the soil of pansy crops at Peoria Gardens. A SparkFun Simultaneous RFID Reader is used to read moisture values sensed by the passive RFID tags, which then communicates the readings to an onboard Feather M0 WiFi via UART for microprocessing. The firmware for the Feather M0 contains a state machine that uses the communicated moisture values, converts it to a subjective Likert Scale Peoria Gardens uses for their crops to determine the activation of an onboard power relay that controls the irrigation switch for the irrigation boom. Key Words: Irrigation, SmarTrac, RFID, SparkFun Simultaneous RFID Reader, Feather M0 WiFi, Peoria Gardens, Likert Scale, Adafruit Capacitive Soil Sensors, Microprocessor
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  • This work was partially funded by the DeLoach Work Scholarship.
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