Hackaday Prize Entry: Wireless Weather Station Protects Crops from Frost

It seems like you hear it every year — a late or early frost threatens some crop or another, forcing farmers to take drastic action to avoid financial ruin. But even when the weather cooperates on a large scale, microclimates can still cause big problems in small enough areas to go unnoticed until after the damage is done.

As always, better data can lead to better decisions, and increased granularity of environmental data could do wonders for certain kinds of agriculture. Enter SLoRa, a wireless weather station for agriculture. Aimed at providing a network of cheap, low-power temperature sensors, [Dorijan]’s proposed system would allow farmers to take active measures to protect their trees from frosts — smudge pots to heat the nascent fruit, sprinklers to apply a protective layer of ice, or even hovering helicopters to move massive amounts of warmer air into cold spots. With a solar powered sensor array and a LoRa link to a hilltop gateway, each SLoRa sensor deployed will be one more data point a farmer can use to determine where to deploy his or her limited resources.

Need to get up to speed on LoRa? You could do worse than learning how to listen in on LoRa signals with an SDR dongle.

13 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Entry: Wireless Weather Station Protects Crops from Frost

    1. My guess it’s the housing for the temperature sensor. In essence the modern day version of whether stations inside wooden cabinets with louvers on all four sides to protect the instruments from direct sunlight, while allowing the free flow of air. Several images at;

      https://www.google.com/search?q=volunteer+weather+observers&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiPj9f6l_jUAhUGJiYKHUt9A3gQ_AUICygC&biw=1002&bih=414
      Hackady often acts like self educated citizen volunteer scientists are something new, but they have been actively collecting data for decades.

      1. It’s called a radiation shield. It enables a more accurate reading of air temperature by removing the effect of sunlight on the sensor. Some also have a fan that draws air up from the bottom, called a “fan-aspirated radiation shield”

      1. Thanks. Not having a farm handy I wasn’t aware what the budgets are. Maybe making payments on a $500k tractor leaves nothing in the budget for $50k worth of sensors, I dunno.

    1. Ag businesses will pay the price, but not a hobbyist realm. It has to work first time and every time.

      Did an ag sensor station about 20 years past. Retail price in 4 figure range, and many customers came back for more. Ag electronics is a tough way to make a living.

        1. Brian is correct,
          I have seen at least 4 companies fail in this sector, and for reasons you’d think are trivial.

          1. There are not many farmers left due to big agro consolidation
          2. Competitive exclusion drives profit margins below a growth-safe zone
          3. Many Farmers have already spent their money before it is made, and tend to view everything as a livestock management issue

          Your are in for an expensive education chasing a fractured market.

    2. The only$100 figure I seen was for an antenna for a RF network node, that doesn’t include the cost of mast or tower, feed line, and power supply. For the most part “farmers have the intelligence to do a benefit cost calculation. could be insurance may be better option, or gamble that the Federal government will pay disaster assistance.

  1. Will be interested to see how this pans out. I was keeping track of a very similar project about 8 years ago, so while the concept is far from new, there are some advances in technology that give more options nowadays. For those interested in some comparison pricing for existing products, check out Camalie Networks LLC and their vineyard products: http://50.161.9.77:8006/html/cs3prod.htm

  2. Sorry hackaday, but hackaday.Io fails as being build/ design blog/ forum. Then again by luck of the draw I visit those where the content creators don’t provide much. I found this creators comment about antennae interesting. They made an issue over radiation patterns, but wonder if they selected the best elevation radiation pattern available to achieve the desired range?

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