Rice farmers can now breathe easily as new sensor technology has been developed to monitor their paddies for them, erasing hours of field work. With concepts from the Internet of Things, rice farming is set to transform for millions of farmers worldwide.
A team of Japanese developers from Hackerfarm and Digital Garage teamed up to provide a solution to overworked rice farmers in the Japanese rice growing regions. Through employing a concept drawn from the Internet of Things, the team sought to develop a technological system to monitor rice paddy water levels, one of the toughest parts of rice farming.
Around the world, rice is grown in little segments known as paddies that add up to cover fields and fields of land. These paddies are flooded with water as rice requires plenty of water to grow properly. However, too much water will drown the weeds while too little water will inhibit seedling growth. The water level is monitored constantly, making rice growing one of the most maintenance intensive crops.
Technological developers from Hackerfarm and Digital garage sought to end the nightmare of round-the-clock- maintenance through a device called “Saboten”. The name is Japanese for “cactus”. The device was previously used to monitor water levels in the Himalayas before being deployed to Japanese rice fields.
The sensor uses an ultrasonic acoustic range sensor named MaxSoar, which senses any rapid increase or decrease in the water levels. The sensor detects water level volatility and sends signals through a 500mW power amplifier to alert farmers of the change. Currently, the MaxSonar has a range of 32 feet. With proper antennas, developers estimate that it is possible to have the data sent over six miles.
The developers are also developing the sensors to not only detect water level volatility but also track wild boars. The invasive species are responsible for a large portion of rice plantation destruction. The species can decimate a whole farm in one night. For most farmers, monitoring boar traps is an almost impossible task.
Saboten developers are improving their sensors to allow them to detect boar activity or trappings and notify farmers.
The developers are working on having their device available to farmers by the start of the next planting year.
Technology has revolutionized many processes this century. From driverless technology to the Internet of Things, human labor is decreasing as technology takes away plenty of mechanical work. Rice farmers will benefit greatly from the sensor technology, affording them more time away from labor intensive rice growing.