The access we have to seemingly limitless resources in Canada is not a reality in many developing nations. Resources are often more scarce, or with good access, more expensive. With the prevalence of simple text phones in East Africa, healthcare and medicine have already progressed into integrating SMS to create medical records. It was about time that agriculture followed suite.

What it does

Ashera is an SMS-based resource monitoring system for farmers. With the use of a small device implanted in your farmland, the vitals of your field are regularly monitored and sent to your mobile number in the form of a text message. Weather changes, including the probability of precipitation, humidity, and temperature are also available with the sensor data, allowing the best timing on planting, watering, fertilizing, and even harvesting.

How we built it

A single Arduino microprocessor is currently used with a variety of sensors to track the measurements of the health of the soil. Ideally, this arduino has a WiFi (or Ethernet) shield to send the data to the server. A second server gets the information from the data-containing server, and sends the appropriate data from the sensors as well as from a weather API, Dark Sky, to the client via SMS with Twilio.

Challenges we ran into

Without access to an Ethernet or WiFi shield for the Arduino, we had to create our prototype with a serial connection to a laptop, which in turn posts the sensor information as JSON data to the server.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

Our modular design allows us to expand into different areas with the same API. This is vital for taking the project forward and required consistent planning and regular updates to our plan as we troubleshooted.

What we learned

The Twilio API was a new endeavor for all members. Combining the use of two servers (and a third server to test other aspects), with one each utilizing a different API, was also a new feat for the members of this group, and learning the setup processing was incredibly useful for future projects.

What's next for Ashera

Combining the use of multiple microprocessors with a single hub would be a more ideal implementation in the future for larger fields. If we were to make this into an actual product, partnering with a telecommunication company to bring this service to more users with either a discounted or advertisment based system.

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