The Tevatronic irrigation controller consists of a digital tensiometer sensor, a valve switch controller and a remote valve control unit. The valve switch and the remote valve control units (enclosed together in a W 14.5 cm, H 9 cm, D 4 cm box) were developed specifically for the system and commanded from a cloud server on the Internet. The valve switch communicates with the tensiometer sensors with ultra high radio frequency (434MH) to a distance of up to 1 Km and with the cloud server via cellular communication, on the GSM/3G network. Tensiometers are equipped with a C2 battery, lasting for 3 years. The valve switch is equipped with a Li-Ion battery and is connected to the power grid via 5V/2A power adaptor or to a solar panel. The valve control unit requires 2 AA batteries lasting for 1 year.
The irrigation controller can operate in several modes:
A. Tensiometer alone mode. Tensiometers can be installed at any depth, sending the data every 15 m via the valve switch to the server for inspection. The user makes the decision when and how much to irrigate manually.
B. Automatic mode. In this mode the controller operates as a conventional irrigation computer, requiring the input of irrigation timing and volume of water and % fertilizer injection. Tensiometers can be employed as in mode “A”.
C. Automatic mode + Decision support. This mode is similar to mode “B” but the system also suggests an irrigation time to the user.
D. Autonomous mode. In this mode the system makes the irrigation decision when and how much to irrigate, based on the input by the user of the irrigation depth, the threshold tension to initiate the irrigation and % fertilizer injection. This mode requires the use of a tensiometer and the wired or wireless connection of the valve switch/remote valve controller to an electrical 12 V DC solenoid valve. The soil water tension is measured every minute for irrigation control and recorded every 15 m. Soil matric potential values, valve opening and closing time and volume of water and fertilizer applied are uploaded to a server on the internet for graphical and data inspection. Irrigation depth calculation is based on a proprietary algorithm. In the autonomous irrigation mode monitoring and controlling soil water tension is carried out by a single tensiometer positioned at a shallow soil layer close to a dripper where a dense root system exist (depth of 15 cm and a distance of up to 15 cm from a dripper). Once tension and irrigation depth are set the systems operates autonomously without human intervention at a frequency dictated by the drying soil. The volume of water applied is a function of the evapotranspiration by the plant that integrates all existing variables and adjust the amount of water required by the irrigation frequency and the algorithm that control irrigation depth.
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