Monitoring Soil Moisture Levels with Sensors and LoRaWAN

Start-up Plantobelly Develops Solution for Smart City Irrigation Planning!

According to Statista, 2015 to 2021 were by far the warmest years since weather records began. The temperature was up to 0.99 degrees Celsius above average. The increasing heat and associated environmental consequences have negative impacts on plants.

The start-up Plantobelly has developed the sensor Plantobelly, which measures soil moisture at a depth of up to 60 cm and transmits the data via LoRaWAN. What started out as a solution idea to protect a lemon tree from drying out over winter, has evolved into a scalable solution for green space monitoring via soil moisture measurement in three years of development work. As a result, optimized and cost-saving irrigation planning for plants and green areas is made possible in smart cities.

Sensor Technology and LoRaWAN Save Tree Population in Cities

he Plantobelly consists of a transmitter unit measuring 8 cm x 3 cm x 2.5 cm, which is equipped with a transmitting antenna and connected to the measuring loop (probe) via a 60 cm cable. The sensor is placed at a depth of up to 60 cm near the plant to be monitored and its roots, the transmitter unit is located near the surface of the soil. Soil moisture is measured in the immediate vicinity of the tree. With the help of the Plantobelly, irrigation planning is optimally adapted to meet the plant’s needs. The drying out of trees and green areas is prevented.

Data transmission via LoRaWAN Enables Scalable Irrigation Scheduling Solution

Data from the Plantobelly is transmitted to a gateway via LoRaWAN every twelve hours. Data transmission can occur over distances ranging from one to several kilometers, depending on LoRaWAN network expansion and the number of gateways deployed. At the same time, publicly available weather data is retrieved from the location of the deployed Plantobelly. This location is based on the zip code to which the Plantobelly is assigned. Soil moisture measurements and weather data are displayed to users in the Plantobelly Web Service to enable long-term irrigation scheduling and condition monitoring of green areas.

Benefits of LoRaWAN for Plantobelly

Simply explained, a LoRaWAN network consists of a central LoRaWAN server, LoRaWAN gateways, and LoRaWAN end devices. Data is transmitted from sensors to gateways and from there to the server. High ranges of data transmission over several kilometers, low energy consumption and versatile application possibilities due to battery-powered sensors as well as a utilization of up to 10,000 sensors per gateway are advantages of LoRaWAN technology. The Plantobelly achieves a data transmission range of one to several kilometers using via LoRaWAN. The battery allows the Plantobelly to last up to ten years.

Plantobelly in Use in smart cities Hamburg and Lübeck

The German cities of Hamburg, Berlin, Lübeck and Duisburg have one thing in common: Plantobelly sensors are used in all of them. Since the founding of Plantobelly in January 2021, more than 100 Plantobellys are now monitoring plants and green spaces across Germany to optimize irrigation scheduling in cities.

“The main target group for the Plantobelly are smart cities,” explains Bastian Klemke, Sales, Plantobelly. “Especially young trees in cities have an enormously hard time. In the vicinity of streets and sidewalks, the opportunity for moisture absorption is very low. The plants have to be cared for and watered. Monitoring these processes is our clear focus.” Using LoRaWAN technology, the Plantobelly is incorporated effortlessly into existing smart city networks or integrated into new networks.

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