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Under the idea of smart farming, a new idea for irrigation has made its way into the changing face of agriculture. Bangaluru based, agritech company,Avanijal Agri Automation Pvt Ltd founded by Channabasappa Kolar & Vijayeendra H S has introduced an ingenious method of irrigation - one that can be programmed and controlled using just an app. Irrigation is the biggest challenge in agriculture farming as "Farmers generally use drip or sprinkler systems, which typically wastes water and can often over-irrigate crops, affecting the final yield,"

Avanijal has developed an automated system - termed 'Nikash' - that leverages IoT and wireless technology to control irrigation motors and valves in the field. This low-cost system consists of a controller that is connected to an app, wireless sensor nodes that are embedded into the soil and repeaters that establish communication between the controller and the nodes. 

Farmers can configure their irrigation schedule on the app and remotely monitor the activity thereafter, automating processes that were earlier done manually. 



"Using the app, farmers can ensure that the field is irrigated on time and constantly monitor the condition of the field without physically being present there 

Drip irrigation, on the other hand, will require the farmer to directly monitor the supply, which includes switching on/off the motor and opening/closing the valves. And with irrigation activities getting only a few hours of power supply a day, most of which happens overnight, it is difficult to manage it during odd hours. 

"With the help of Nikash, however, farmers can adopt precision irrigation based on time, volume of water available and even soil moisture 

The system has also been designed to take voltage fluctuations into consideration, so the time or volume of water is automatically adjusted during the event of power outages, 

This means that when electricity is available, the controller - which is connected to the wireless sensor nodes in the ground - automatically switches on the motor as and when it is scheduled by the farmer. It stops when one portion of the land gets the stipulated amount of water, and then moves on to the next portion - as programmed on the app. At the end of the cycle, the irrigation wraps up for the day. 

Our focus so far has been on irrigation, but that can easily be adapted to crop monitoring," says Vijayeendra. "Sensors on the field collect data which is then stored on to the Cloud. We can analyse that data and provide input back to the farmer in a readable and graphical way for them to take action," he adds. 

Avanijal has already started working with IBM to upload the data on to their server and use its Watson IoT platform to conduct the analysis. 

According to him, India is a price-sensitive market and the few products that are available today are too costly for many farmers. This is one of the differentiating factors about Nikash: "The cost of our solution is affordable and varies from Rs 12,000 to Rs 25,000 per acre. A farmer can start with the basic plan by automating a small portion of the land first before expanding its reach later. What is more, we have modelled it such that the payback period for farmers can go up to 2.5 years," he .. 

Avanijal was one of eight shortlisted startups for Cycle 1 of Qualcomm Design in India Challenge (QDIC) this year. 

Available in only Karnataka at the moment, the founders want to stabilize the product in its home ground first before expanding it to other states. Although adoption has been a little slower than expected, the duo is optimistic about its adoption. 
                                                                                     By Sangeeta




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