Yinhai District of Beihai City in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, with 18,000 hectares of arable land, has a farming population of 124,000, accounting for 53% of the district’s total habitants. To help local farmers increase efficiency, lower the cost and boost the yield in farming, the local government has been visiting different regions in China and conducting research to find solutions that can help the farming industry in Yinhai District through digital transformation with IoT technology.

After learning about Seeed SenseCAP, the wireless IoT sensors and gateways for precision agriculture and smart farming, the local government decided to partner with Seeed, Kebai Sciences Inc. (a system integrator based in Beijing) and GAAS (Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences) to build a smart agriculture pilot project within their 200-hectare agricultural demonstration park.

A Glimpse of Agricultural Demonstration Park in Beihai

Through constant communication with local farmers and the government, the pilot run was chosen to be implemented in a greenhouse of sweet melons, with the following elements taken into consideration:

  • Sweet melon is a superstar among local produce, with two harvests per year, and a yield of 2500kg per 0.067ha at the selling price of 10RMB/kg. It has been selected as a brand of China’s “one product per village” program. When the IoT application of smart agriculture practices can help farmers in sweet melon cultivation and management, it will be easily replicated to other sweet melon greenhouses as well as other crops.
  • The current managing method requires farmers to constantly visit the greenhouses in person, and to turn on and off the switches of different systems manually, which is both time-consuming and labor-intensive.
  • When relying on experience and estimation, the management process wastes a lot of water and electricity in the process of cultivation, which may simultaneously lead to low yield due to the inappropriate amount of fertilizer or irrigation.
Sweet Melon in Greenhouse (Photo Credit: Beihai Daily)

To help solve the current problems, the pilot project was implemented with SenseCAP, the industrial wireless agriculture sensors and gateways, including the following LoRaWAN sensors: Soil Temperature, VWC & EC Sensor, Light Intensity Sensor, CO2 Sensor, pH Sensor, PAR Sensor, and LoRaWAN Gateways. The IoT solution is equipped to perform the following functions:

  1. SenseCAP collects the parameters of soil moisture and temperature, soil electrical conductivity, light intensity, CO2, soil pH value, and PAR (Photosynthetically active radiation).
  2. The ventilation systems, sunshade curtain system, and the irrigation systems are connected with the data collected by SenseCAP for remote control or auto-control.
  3. Cameras installed indoor to monitor the growth conditions of the plants and outdoor for surveillance purposes.
  4. A smart weather station installed outside the greenhouse for collecting the parameters of air temperature and humidity, barometric pressure, light intensity, CO2, wind direction and rain volume.
(This image shows how SenseCAP is integrated with control systems)

Combining the consultation and suggestions from Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences with the data collected by SenseCAP, the farmers can remotely control the ventilation, sunshade curtain and smart irrigation system through the webpage or Mini-App on WeChat.

(data collected at the smart greenhouse monitoring)

And from the images collected by the cameras, the farmers can see the conditions within and outside the greenhouses conveniently without dispatching workers to check the greenhouse in person. This helps to lower the cost significantly and improve efficiency.

(an image captured by the camera in the smart greenhouse)

For long-term development, the accumulated data can be used by experts at Guangxi Academy of Agricultural Sciences to provide insightful information and consultation to local farmers about which crops and fruits to grow based on the weather conditions in Yinhai District. In this way, they will be able to implement climate-smart agriculture practices and form a beneficial cycle in the long run.

(Smart Weather Station Deployed outside the Greenhouse)

This pilot project has been in full swing in Yinhai District with very positive feedback from local farmers and government officials. It is expected to expand to other greenhouses and outdoor fields of sweet melons, chilies and other produce with high economic benefits.

This project also contributes to the following Sustainable Development Goals.

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