IoT-based system to estimate water availability and consumption in mountain agriculture: a preliminary approach

Agriculture production consumes more than 70% of the world’s water mainly for irrigation and its efficiency is less than 50%. In mountain agriculture, the situation complicates more due to the difficult conditions of the terrain, difficulty to install proper infrastructure, the accessibility to the fields, and the proper management. In mountain regions, the traditional farming and irrigation systems believe that water is an unlimited resource, but actually, due to climate change, such areas are one of the most vulnerable places that face such dramatic and irreversible changes (e.g. glacier melting, long drought events, greening effect on mountains, the loss of biodiversity, etc.). The consequence of these inefficient management systems results in degraded and depleted resources. The challenge is to ensure adequate agriculture production while achieving maximum efficiency of irrigation water use.
In this work, we present the preliminary concept of an open data distributed sensor network that collects and visualizes Soil moisture, Snow Water Equivalent, and Biomass Water Equivalent as well as ancillary information such as meteorological data for three different mountain scenarios: nival zone (snow line), sub-alpine zone (timberline) and boreal (valleys). The system integrates one of the most promising instruments to measure moisture: Cosmic Ray Neutron Sensors whose counts are proportional to the hydrogen particles in the environment. The system integrates open hardware loggers, accessible via GitHub repository, open software visualization apps (Graphana) and the overall project aims to contribute to international open data access for soil moisture applications (TERRENO) following FAIR data principles.