DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION OF A SOIL MOISTURE DETECTOR WITH AUTOMATIC SMS NOTIFICATION SYSTEM
1.1 Background to the study
Through the ages agriculture production systems have benefited from the
incorporation of technological advances primarily developed for other industries.
The industrial age brought mechanization and synthesized fertilizers, the
technological age offered genetic engineering and now the information age brings
the potential for Precision Agriculture (Rasher, 2001).
Precision agriculture (PA) , satellite farming or Site Specific Crop Management
(SSCM) can be defined as a set of technologies that have helped propel
agriculture into the computerized information-based world, and is designed to
help farmers get greater control over the management of farm operations
(Gandonou, 2005). One of the key technologies of precision agriculture is the
control and accurate measurement of the soil moisture. For decades, the subject
of soil moisture has been of great interest in agricultural system. Prior to
advancement in agriculture, farmer has picked up and felt a handful of soil to
determine the best time to plow his fields and equally to manually determine the
amount of moisture content of the soil. Soil moisture measurement ranges from
the method of feeling the soil to the use of complicated electronic equipment
using radioactive substances. Such method includes the use of soil sensor. Since
the inception of precision agriculture, soil sensors have been used to measure the
soil moisture level. The soil moisture sensors measure the volumetric water
content of the soil by using electrical resistance, dielectric constant, etc. The
farmer uses the information obtained from the soil moisture sensor to make 2
adequate and accurate decisions on how and when to irrigate or plough his
Today, technological progress in communication, along with the information
revolution has reduced the amount of work done by the farmer and has since then
increased yield. Precision agricultural technologies, such as Global Positioning
Systems (GPS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing, yield
monitors, and guidance systems for variable rate application, made it possible to
manage within-field variation on large scales. The GIS is a software application
that is designed to provide the tools to manipulate and display spatial data
(Blackmore, 1993). These technologies allow detection and/or characterization
of an object, series of objects, or the landscape without having the sensor in
physical contact (Viacheslav et al., 2003). General Packet Radio System (GPRS)
is a third-generation step toward internet access. GPRS is also known as Global
System Mobile Communication Internet Protocol (GSM-IP). GSM-IP keeps the
users of this system online, allows to make voice calls, and access internet on-
the-go. Even Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) users benefit from this
system as it provides packet radio access. GPRS also permits the network
operators to execute an Internet Protocol (IP) based core architecture for
integrated voice and data applications that will continue to be used and expanded
for 3G services. GPRS supersedes the wired connections, as this system has
simplified access to the packet data networks like the internet. The packet radio
principle is employed by GPRS to transport user data packets in a structure way
between GSM mobile stations and external packet data networks. These packets
can be directly routed to the packet switched networks from the GPRS mobile
stations. In the current versions of GPRS, networks based on the Internet Protocol 3
(IP) like the global internet or private/corporate intranets and X.25 networks are
Listed are some of the key features of GPRS wireless network:
i. The always online feature - Removes the dial-up process, making
applications only one click away.
ii. An upgrade to existing systems - Operators do not have to replace their
equipment; rather, GPRS is added on top of the existing infrastructure.
iii. An integral part of 3G systems - GPRS is the packet data core network for
3G systems Enhanced Data GSM Environment (EDGE) and Wideband
Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA).
Remote sensing uses aerial or satellite imaging to sense crop vegetation and
identify crop stresses and injuries or pest infestation. As an application of the new
information technology adapted to agriculture, the essence of this technology is
based upon the availability of data and the use of this data in the decision-making
process (Gandonou, 2005).
Data collected from soil sampling, yield monitoring, crop scouting, remote
sensing, and satellite imaging are used to create maps. For example, yield map
data can reveal a low yielding area. Remote sensing imaging techniques can
highlight crop stress, disease and other field or crop characteristics. The
availability of historical data combined with multiple layers of information for a
farmer engaged in PA improves the quality of inputs recommendations and
management decisions. The effectiveness of the decision making however, will
depend on a quick and accurate analysis of temporal and spatial data. In this
context, precision farming technologies are widely known to assist growers in
making informed decisions. By helping in making informed management 4
decisions, PA could be used by producers as an effective management and risk
A moisture detector is an electronic device that is designed to detect the presence
of water and provide an alert in time to allow the prevention of water damage. It
is used to measure the percentage of water in a given substance. The information
obtained can be used to determine if the material is ready for use, unexpectedly
wet or dry, or otherwise in need of further inspection.
Soil moisture content is one of the most critical soil components to plant growth
and land management, especially in dry-land. Therefore measuring soil moisture
is important for agricultural applications to help farmers manage their irrigation
systems more efficiently. Knowing the exact soil moisture conditions on their
fields, not only are farmers able to generally use less water to grow a crop, they
are also able to increase yields and the quality of the crop by improved
management of soil moisture during critical plant growth stages.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Before the advancement in agriculture, detecting and monitoring soil moisture
level in order to alert the farmer on when to irrigate his farmland is somehow
difficult. While determining soil moisture is paramount in agriculture, it will be
more appropriate if this can be done with little or no human intervention so as to
make adequate and accurate decisions. The previous means of relying on human
perfection in determining the soil moisture has not been effective. The need to
develop a system that will be able to determine the soil moisture level and send
the same (gathered data) to the farmer through SMS notification without human
intervention is necessary. Hence this study.
1.3 Aim of the project
The aim of this study is to design and implement a soil moisture detector with an
automatic SMS notification system using Arduino micro-controller and GSM
SIM900 GPRS module.
1.4 Objectives of the project
The objectives of this study are as listed:
(a) Design soil moisture detector and automatic SMS notification system
(b) Implement the design in (a).
(c) Evaluate the effectiveness of the implemented design in (b).
1.5 Methodology Overview
Through the following methodologies, the goals of this project were achieved:
i. Use Fritzing electronics modeling tool in designing the automation and
monitoring system that uses high sensitive soil moisture sensor to detect
ii. Insert the two soil sensor probes into the soil which forms a variable resistor
and connects to Arduino microcontroller via its A0 port.
iii. Using GSM SIM900 GPRS module, implement transfer of aggregated data
in (ii) to a mobile phone.
iv. Evaluate the effectiveness of the system by comparing soil moisture content
of three different soil samples.
Human being are prone to error and they have every tendency to forget easily.
Precision agriculture will be more effective if the controlling and monitoring of 6
soil moisture is seamless and accurate as farm owners will be notified when to
irrigate their crops .
1.7 Contribution to Knowledge
This study is expected to design and implement a system capable of detecting soil
moisture level and can automatically send a notification in form of short message
service (SMS) using GPRS wireless network.
1.8 Organization of Report
Chapter one introduced the project work and presented a background information
on precision agriculture. It explained soil moisture sensor and existing techniques
used in measuring the volumetric content of soil before the advancement in
agriculture. Chapter two provided the literature review of existing researches,
design, implementations and studies that are similar to the current project
exposing their methodology, advantages and disadvantages. Chapter three
focused on the detailed explanation of methodology that was used in the design
and implementation of this project. It specifies the specification of the functional,
non-functional, software and hardware requirements of the system. It equally
discusses procedures, techniques, tools and documentation aids which are
channeled towards the implementation of the project. Chapter four focused on
the implementation of the project work. It highlighted how the various
components were integrated into a whole and the various tests carried out on each
components. Chapter five concluded the project write-up. It discussed the
project's summary, contribution to knowledge, challenges faced during the course
of implementation and recommendations on enhancing the project for further
Agriculture system is a complex interaction of seed, soil, water, fertilizer and
Optimization of the resources is important for sustainability of this complex
system. Unscientific exploitation of agricultural resources to bridge the gap in
supply/demand owing to the population growth is leading to resource degradation
and subsequent decline in crop yields (Shah and Ipsita, 2012). In addition,
uncertainty of climatic conditions is also playing an important role in this
complex system. This calls for optimal utilization of the resources for managing
the controlled agricultural system (Shah and Ipsita, 2012).This chapter therefore
includes the background study of research works and a review of works that have
been done on major topics related to this project including their strengths and
The major topics to be reviewed in this chapter are as follows:
i. Soil Moisture Sensor
ii. GSM Network
iii. GPRS Wireless Network
iv. Sink Nodes
v. Related Works.