CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS AND PROTOTYPICAL DESIGN OF A REAL-TIME CROP WATER DEMAND MONITORING SYSTEM FOR IRRIGATION: CASE STUDY OF AN AGROPHOTOVOLTAIC SYSTEM IN MALI
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The emergence of new technologies such as internet of things, wireless communication, affordable microcontrollers, and sensors facilitates the optimization of water use. This advancement in technology is an opportunity for the west African countries and the rest of the African continent to move from rainfall dependent farming to an autonomous and irrigated farming system. The transfer to irrigation systems may lead the continent to new issues such as competition between food, energy and water production and unsustainable resource usage. An innovative approach to solve this problem is the implementation of Agrophotovoltaic (APV) system. To ensure water and energy usage efficiency of an APV system, a smart irrigation system needs to be set up. This study will focus on the design of an integrated irrigation management system that will allow minimum interaction of farmers on fields and ensure appropriate and real-time crop water need monitoring and water allocation for optimal crop production. Different data was first collected to establish a proper irrigation scheduling using the FAO CROPWAT 8.0 software. The established irrigation scheduling allows the evaluation of the designed real-time crop water monitoring system. With the hardware consisting of two sensors, communication devices, a pump, a power unit on one hand, and a web-based software (Vegecloud) on the other hand, the remote access and control of crop water requirement through the visualization of data gathered by sensors was achieved. The developed system was able to ensure real-time crop water need monitoring by allowing an instant data collection, transferring, processing and analysis based on the data representation illustrated on Vegecloud.