1.1 Background to the study       

        Through  the  ages  agriculture  production  systems  have  benefited  from  the 

        incorporation of technological advances primarily developed for other industries. 

      The  industrial  age  brought  mechanization  and  synthesized  fertilizers,  the 

        technological age offered genetic engineering and now the information age brings 

      the potential for Precision Agriculture (Rasher, 2001). 

      Precision agriculture (PA) , satellite farming or Site Specific Crop Management 

        (SSCM) can  be  defined  as  a  set  of  technologies  that  have  helped  propel 

        agriculture  into  the  computerized  information-based  world,  and  is  designed  to 

      help  farmers  get  greater  control  over  the  management  of  farm  operations 

        (Gandonou,  2005).  One  of  the  key  technologies  of  precision  agriculture  is  the 

      control and accurate measurement of the soil moisture. For decades, the subject 

      of  soil  moisture  has  been  of  great  interest  in  agricultural  system.  Prior  to 

        advancement in  agriculture, farmer has picked up and felt a handful of soil to 

      determine the best time to plow his fields and equally to manually determine the 

        amount of moisture content of the soil. Soil moisture measurement ranges from 

      the  method  of  feeling  the  soil  to  the  use  of  complicated  electronic  equipment 

      using radioactive substances. Such method includes the use of soil sensor. Since 

      the inception of precision agriculture, soil sensors have been used to measure the 

      soil  moisture  level.    The  soil  moisture  sensors  measure  the  volumetric  water 

        content  of  the  soil  by  using  electrical  resistance,  dielectric  constant,  etc. The 

      farmer  uses  the  information  obtained  from  the  soil  moisture  sensor  to  make                                           2 

        adequate  and  accurate  decisions  on  how  and  when  to  irrigate  or  plough  his 


       Today,  technological  progress  in  communication,  along  with  the  information 

        revolution has reduced the amount of work done by the farmer and has since then 

        increased yield. Precision agricultural technologies, such as Global Positioning 

        Systems  (GPS), Geographic  Information  Systems (GIS), remote sensing,  yield 

        monitors, and guidance systems for variable rate application, made it possible to 

        manage within-field variation on large scales. The GIS is a software application 

      that  is  designed  to  provide  the  tools  to  manipulate  and  display  spatial  data 

        (Blackmore, 1993). These technologies allow detection and/or characterization 

      of  an  object,  series  of  objects,  or  the  landscape  without  having  the  sensor  in 

      physical contact (Viacheslav et al., 2003). General Packet Radio System (GPRS) 

      is a third-generation step toward internet access. GPRS is also known as Global 

        System Mobile Communication Internet Protocol (GSM-IP). GSM-IP keeps the 

      users of this system online, allows to make voice calls, and access internet on-

        the-go.  Even  Time  Division  Multiple  Access  (TDMA)  users  benefit  from  this 

      system  as  it  provides  packet  radio  access.  GPRS  also  permits  the  network 

      operators  to  execute  an  Internet  Protocol  (IP)  based  core  architecture  for 

      integrated voice and data applications that will continue to be used and expanded 

      for  3G  services.  GPRS  supersedes  the  wired  connections,  as  this  system  has 

        simplified access to the packet data networks like the internet. The packet radio 

        principle is employed by GPRS to transport user data packets in a structure way 

      between GSM mobile stations and external packet data networks. These packets 

      can be directly routed to the packet switched networks from the GPRS mobile 

      stations. In the current versions of GPRS, networks based on the Internet Protocol                                           3 

      (IP) like the global internet or private/corporate intranets and X.25 networks are 


        Listed are some of the key features of GPRS wireless network: 

      i. The  always  online  feature - Removes  the  dial-up  process,  making 

            applications only one click away. 

      ii. An  upgrade  to  existing  systems - Operators  do  not  have  to  replace  their 

            equipment; rather, GPRS is added on top of the existing infrastructure. 

      iii. An integral part of 3G systems - GPRS is the packet data core network for 

            3G  systems Enhanced  Data  GSM  Environment  (EDGE)  and Wideband 

            Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA). 

        Remote  sensing  uses aerial  or  satellite  imaging  to  sense  crop  vegetation  and 

        identify crop stresses and injuries or pest infestation. As an application of the new 

        information technology adapted to agriculture, the essence of this technology is 

      based upon the availability of data and the use of this data in the decision-making 

      process (Gandonou, 2005). 

      Data  collected  from  soil  sampling,  yield  monitoring,  crop  scouting,  remote 

        sensing, and satellite imaging are used to create maps. For example, yield map 

      data  can  reveal  a  low  yielding  area.  Remote  sensing  imaging  techniques  can 

      highlight  crop  stress,  disease  and  other  field  or  crop  characteristics.  The 

        availability of historical data combined with multiple layers of information for a 

      farmer  engaged  in  PA  improves  the  quality  of  inputs  recommendations  and 

        management decisions. The effectiveness of the decision making however, will 

      depend  on  a  quick  and  accurate  analysis  of  temporal  and  spatial  data.  In  this 

        context,  precision farming technologies are widely  known to  assist  growers in 

        making  informed  decisions.  By  helping  in  making  informed  management                                           4 

        decisions, PA could be used by producers as an effective management and risk 

        management tool. 

      A moisture detector is an electronic device that is designed to detect the presence 

      of water and provide an alert in time to allow the prevention of water damage. It 

      is used to measure the percentage of water in a given substance. The information 

        obtained can be used to determine if the material is ready for use, unexpectedly 

      wet or dry, or otherwise in need of further inspection. 

      Soil moisture content is one of the most critical soil components to plant growth 

      and land management, especially in dry-land. Therefore measuring soil moisture 

      is important for agricultural applications to help farmers manage their irrigation 

        systems  more  efficiently.  Knowing  the  exact  soil  moisture  conditions  on  their 

      fields, not only are farmers able to generally use less water to grow a crop, they 

      are  also  able  to  increase  yields  and  the  quality  of  the  crop  by  improved 

        management of soil moisture during critical plant growth stages. 

      1.2 Statement of Problem 

      Before the advancement  in  agriculture, detecting and monitoring soil moisture 

      level in order to alert the farmer on when to irrigate his  farmland is somehow 

        difficult. While determining soil moisture is paramount in agriculture, it will be 

      more appropriate if this can be done with little or no human intervention so as to 

      make adequate and accurate decisions. The previous means of relying on human 

        perfection in determining the soil moisture has not been effective. The need to 

        develop a system that will be able to determine the soil moisture level and send 

      the same (gathered data) to the farmer through SMS notification without human 

        intervention is necessary. Hence this study. 


      1.3 Aim of the project 

      The aim of this study is to design and implement a soil moisture detector with an 

        automatic  SMS  notification  system  using  Arduino  micro-controller  and  GSM 

        SIM900 GPRS module. 

      1.4 Objectives of the project 

      The objectives of this study are as listed: 

      (a) Design  soil  moisture  detector  and  automatic  SMS  notification  system 


      (b) Implement the design in (a). 

      (c) Evaluate the effectiveness of the implemented design in (b). 

      1.5 Methodology Overview 

        Through the following methodologies, the goals of this project were achieved:  

      i. Use  Fritzing  electronics  modeling  tool  in  designing  the  automation  and 

            monitoring  system  that  uses  high  sensitive  soil  moisture  sensor  to  detect 

            moisture level. 

      ii. Insert the two soil sensor probes into the soil which forms a variable resistor 

            and connects to Arduino microcontroller via its A0 port.  

      iii. Using GSM SIM900 GPRS module, implement transfer of aggregated data 

            in (ii) to a mobile phone. 

      iv. Evaluate the effectiveness of the system by comparing soil moisture content 

            of three different soil samples. 

      1.6 Justification 

        Human being are prone to error and they have every tendency to forget easily. 

      Precision agriculture will be more effective if the controlling and monitoring of                                           6 

      soil moisture is seamless and accurate as farm owners will be notified when to 

      irrigate their crops . 

      1.7 Contribution to Knowledge 

      This study is expected to design and implement a system capable of detecting soil 

      moisture level and can automatically send a notification in form of short message 

      service (SMS) using GPRS wireless network. 

      1.8 Organization of Report 

        Chapter one introduced the project work and presented a background information 

      on precision agriculture. It explained soil moisture sensor and existing techniques 

      used  in  measuring  the  volumetric  content  of  soil  before  the  advancement  in 

        agriculture.  Chapter  two  provided  the  literature  review  of  existing  researches, 

        design,  implementations  and  studies  that  are  similar  to  the  current  project 

      exposing  their  methodology,  advantages  and  disadvantages.  Chapter  three 

        focused on the detailed explanation of methodology that was used in the design 

      and implementation of this project. It specifies the specification of the functional, 

        non-functional,  software  and  hardware  requirements  of  the  system.  It  equally 

      discusses  procedures,  techniques,  tools  and  documentation  aids  which  are 

        channeled towards the implementation of the project.  Chapter four focused on 

      the  implementation  of  the  project  work.  It  highlighted  how  the various 

        components were integrated into a whole and the various tests carried out on each 

        components.  Chapter  five  concluded  the  project  write-up.  It  discussed  the 

        project's summary, contribution to knowledge, challenges faced during the course 

      of  implementation  and  recommendations  on  enhancing  the  project  for  further 

      study.                                            7 

                                  CHAPTER TWO 

                                    LITERATURE REVIEW 

      2.1 Introduction 

      Agriculture  system  is  a  complex  interaction  of  seed,  soil,  water,  fertilizer  and 

        pesticides etc. 

        Optimization  of  the  resources  is important  for  sustainability  of  this  complex 

        system. Unscientific exploitation  of agricultural  resources to  bridge the  gap in 

        supply/demand owing to the population growth is leading to resource degradation 

      and  subsequent  decline  in  crop  yields  (Shah  and  Ipsita,  2012).  In  addition, 

        uncertainty  of  climatic  conditions  is  also  playing  an  important  role  in  this 

        complex system. This calls for optimal utilization of the resources for managing 

      the controlled agricultural system (Shah and Ipsita, 2012).This chapter therefore 

      includes the background study of research works and a review of works that have 

      been  done  on  major  topics  related  to  this  project  including  their  strengths  and 


      The major topics to be reviewed in this chapter are as follows: 

      i. Soil Moisture Sensor 

      ii. GSM Network 

      iii. GPRS Wireless Network 

      iv. Sink Nodes 

      v. Related Works 



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