Do you lose sleep every night over farming irrigation leaks? Well, you should. Agricultural farming uses 70% of our worldwide freshwater supply. After doing quite a bit of research, we discovered that the amount of water that is lost or unaccounted for is typically 20-30 percent of production and older pipes can lose as much as 50%. Since we have a scarce freshwater supply and increasing global population, conserving water is an important issue.
What it does
The rover uses infrared sensors to navigate through a crop field. It stops every few feet and drops a Soil Moisture Probe using a stepper motor and records the results with a Raspberry Pi. This allows farmers to look at the data to find where puddles/irrigation leaks are.
How we built it
We used a Raspberry Pi, Blackbeagle Bone, Arduino, and many other smaller electrical components.
Challenges we ran into
Mostly hardware issues -- for example, we had trouble with the Raspberry Pi reading serial data with Alternating Current. We also did not have access to tools, such as a soldering iron, and had to come up with creative solutions to build this rover.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We're proud that we were able to get the soil moisture sensor to interface with the Raspberry Pi and that we were able to control our rover with C code on an Arduino.
What we learned
We furthered our understanding of practical electrical engineering.
What's next for The Leak Finder Ag-Rover
We'd love to get more infrared sensors - most professional users consider acoustic methods to be effective for finding leaks in metal pipes, but problematic when used for plastic pipes and PVC/plastic pipes are generally used for irrigation. With more time, we'd love to incorporate other things like solar panels to power the rover, soil pH, a camera/imaging sensors to detect disease in plants (for example, grapevine red blotch), or at the very least send all the data the rover collects to the cloud for processing later.