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Ensuring Malaysia’s food security with IoT-BDA

  • Integrate devices like water level sensors and temperature and humidity monitoring
  • Users can compare water levels with weather data, predict upcoming water availability

 One hears so much of the IoT in terms of manufacturing and services but consider its impact on agriculture as well. And in one instance, the combination of IoT and BDA is already creating waves in Malaysian agriculture through a pilot project with a partnership between Abbaco Controls, Intel and the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA).
 
Employing a method of targeted irrigation has helped increase rice yields – producing three harvests a year instead of the typical twice yearly harvest. If every rice fi­eld has this solution, water irrigation can be properly monitored to provide a near perfect irrigation system. This could potentially result in an additional 20% increase in overall rice production. Good bye rice imports !
 
The successful deployment of the water demand management system has transformed the lives of rice farmers and will eventually touch all of them. Notes a MOA official, "This is an innovative approach to provide accurate and real-time status of water flow – it also enables the MOA to drastically reduce lead-time to farmers’ requests, to minimize manual intervention – thereby increasing operational and farmer effciency.”
 
In addition, the current solution has lowered the total cost of ownership (TCO) by 30% compared to the previous solution. At the same time, improved water efficiency also means that a limited supply of water can be optimised for a variety of uses during the dry season and could even mean - no more dry taps.
 
Ensuring Malaysia’s food security with IoT-BDAWORKING with the Ministry of Agriculture’s Integrated Agricultural Development (IADA) Project, Abbaco Controls and Intel collaborated to develop a groundbreaking automated agricultural water supply management system with the potential of boosting national rice production capacity. Abaco is a company engaged in SCADA and automation systems.

This is also the first water irrigation automation project in Malaysian rice fields. Employing the Internet of Things (IOT) in which data is transferred over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction as well as big data analytics (BDA), Abbaco Controls is set to become a game-changer in creating a water demand management system that can provide local rice farmers with immediate access to information on water levels as well as remotely control water gates, with the potential of boosting national rice production capacity with the end objective of achieving rice supply self-sufficiency.
 
Challenges
In Malaysia, about 70% of available water resources is consumed for rice production. An improvement of water use in rice production will result in significant water efficiency. Previous solutions deployed to improve water efficiency used proprietary hardware and software, and these were expensive to maintain and lacked the functional capacity provided by the current solution. In addition to that, the manually controlled irrigation system required regular human monitoring and this hampered effective production of rice.
 
Solution
With Intel’s IoT Gateway, Abbaco was able to integrate devices like water level sensors, penstock actuator controls, solar power generators, temperature and humidity monitoring sensors as well as 3G connections to their automated irrigation systems. Data collected through these networked sensors is then shared to the cloud, delivering added value with data analytics and data sharing via APIs for actionable information including weather forecasting and water availability prediction.

Intel and Abbaco worked together on water gate automation control for rice fields in Malaysia. With the Intel IOT Gateway, Abbaco is able to integrate devices like water level sensors, penstock actuator controls, solar power system, temperature and humidity monitoring sensors as 3G connections.
 
Control of the water gates is now automated, requiring minimal intervention. Farmers are now able to obtain accurate status of water flow in real time, increasing farming efficiency.
 
Trusted data is shared to the cloud, delivering added value with data analytics and data sharing with other systems via APIs for actionable information like weather forecasting and water availability prediction. Users can get immediate access to water level data and control the water gates remotely. Data can be shared for more insights and prediction of water availability – this can improve rice production and reduce dependence on rice imports.

Outcome
The successful deployment of the water demand management system has transformed the lives of rice farmers; with the Intel IoT Gateway, they can get immediate access to water-level data and remotely control the water gate from anywhere in the world. This method of targeted irrigation has helped increase rice yields – producing three harvests a year instead of the typical twice yearly harvest. This bodes well for our national rice supply security as rice imports can be potentially reduced.
 
Users can also compare water levels with weather data, predict upcoming water availability and share data for more insights. Improved water efficiency also means that a limited supply of water can be optimised for a variety of uses during the dry season.
 
The future
The automated irrigation system solution will be extended to other rice ­fields in Malaysia. If every rice fi­eld has this solution, water irrigation can be properly monitored to provide a near perfect irrigation system. This could potentially result in an additional 20% increase in overall rice production, leading to self-suf­ficiency where no rice imports would be needed. This project also provides the foundation for Abbaco to scale to adjacent opportunities including water recycling, aquaculture and flood management.

Please download the full case study here.

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