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Enabling better global research outcomes in soil, plant & environmental monitoring.

Avocado IOT Crop Monitoring

Avocado IOT Crop Monitoring Case Study

ICT International develops sensors, IoT Nodes, data loggers and telemetry systems enabling continuous real time monitoring of critical plant, soil and atmospheric parameters.

In late 2018 ICT International and NBNCo installed a monitoring program in an Avocado orchard with the specific objective to reduce rates of fruit drop (abscission) hence yield loss by improved irrigation scheduling.

The outcome of this monitoring is now used in ongoing farm operations and informs broader industry practices.

Project Background

Avocados are particularly sensitive to heat at the time of flowering and fruit set. Water stress can result in flower and fruit drop, thereby reducing yield. By forecasting the risk factors which contributing to plant water stress, notably low soil moisture and high VPD, management decisions can be implemented to minimise the risk of fruit drop.

The Site

The farm, located on the Mid-North Coast of NSW, had previously suffered crop losses caused by water stress during flowering and fruit set and was seeking a solution to better detect this risk in real time to enable pro-active management of irrigation and canopy humidity.

The Solution

In collaboration with NBNCo, ICT International installed an integrated crop monitoring network.

  • The sensors provide farm management with the real time information needed to monitor and forecast plant water stress.
  • Remote sensors are installed at three locations on site:
    • Weather station.
    • Soil moisture / temperature sensors.
    • Micro-climate sensors outside and within the canopy measuring temperature, relative humidity and calculated VPD.
    • High resolution dendrometers measuring trunk diameter.
  • Data from the sensors is transmitted over a LoRaWAN network to a Gateway utilising NBNCo fixed point network connection.
  • Eagle.io is used for data storage and visualisation and alarming of soil moisture, VPD and maximum daily trunk contraction (MDC).
  • Eagle.io provides the tool for ICT International to transform the raw sensor data to information that could be directly used by farm management to inform operations.   The system is also used to notify operators (via sms and email) when irrigation is necessary to avoid plant water stress and potential fruit drop, hence crop loss.

The outcome

  • The sensor network was installed in December 2018, prior to a month of extreme heat which occurred during flowering and fruit set.  Over January during fruit set the sensor network detected two significant plant water stress events, with local VPD levels rising above 5kPa. Low soil moisture during the second event resulted in severe plant water stress which was reflected by higher levels of maximum daily contraction of the trunk (MDC). Managers observed high numbers of fruit drop coinciding with the second event.
  • These events are depicted in Results.
  • Remotely controllable irrigation systems are currently being installed. The monitoring system will provide property owners the information required to remotely control irrigation to reduce plant water stress events.

Hardware Details:

 

  • Crop: Avocado
  • Farm location: Mid-North Coast, NSW
  • Quantitative data on outcomes of the project:

About ICT International

  • ICT International offers soil, plant and environmental monitoring systems and services to a range of farming operations and have long established monitoring networks on farms across Australia. ICT International has high levels of experience in a variety of high-value horticultural crops, such as Macadamia, Almond, Sandalwood, Grape and Avocado crops.
  • ICT International’s instruments are manufactured in Armidale, NSW, and have been installed to measure plant water-use in a range of very harsh environments, including: Amazon rainforests, California’s ‘tallest trees in the world’ and trees growing on the permafrost in Northern Canada. In these instances by scientists to understand climate change impacts on the eco-physiology and adaption of plant communities.