The initial scope for the automation system in the field was to control irrigation valves and cooling valves. Digital inputs from our pressure switches were also brought in to confirm valve operation hydraulically.
This was undertaken with single cable Piccolo RTU units existing on-site. This was done to test the viability of the substrate trial starting in 2017.
The project matured for a couple of years where we had little involvement in the trial apart from supplying the hosted ICCPRO server and assisting in conditional programming and general support.
In 2021 it was decided to go commercial with the venture and design the systems to be located in different states within Australia.
While we can’t comment on the building blocks of the system from a growing point of view, the irrigation automation system was designed around measurement and fine control.
The following is a brief description of this process including photos.
Pump station, Fertigation and Automation Control
An existing shed was utilized to install the Irrinet controllers system, along with the pumps and Mottech dosing unit.
Irrinet control system consisted of the following.
Irrinet ACE 7 slot CPU with low tier power supply.
Irrinet ACE 8 AI module. (Analog inputs)
Irrinet ACE 32 DI/DO module (16 input 16 output).
Mottech MDS system for operating the field decoders.
Additional equipment included
DRC-100A 12volt power supply for the low tier Ace module.
12volt backup battery connected to the DRC-100A to avoid power interruptions.
Wage 24vac 63VAC transformer for all local digital outputs.
Intercel ESAM Ethernet 4G modem and Yagi Directional antenna for remote connection.
8 port Ethernet switch for routing the Mottech decoder system.
Nutrient delivery is undertaken with a Mottech Fertigation unit built with eight channels. Channels 1 to 7 handles the nutrient recipe, while the remaining channel is for system sanitisation.
pH and Conductivity are also monitored continuously via an analog transmitter connected to the Irrinet Ace analog module.
Each dosing channel is monitored for flow and matched proportionally to the main flow according to the ratios required.
Additional analog inputs include pressure transducers before and after filtration, and possibly nutrient tank level monitoring when finally connected.
Field control and monitoring
Infield valve and filter assemblies are controlled and monitored by the Mottech MDS decoders. Each enclosure contains 3 input decoders and 2 output decoders.
They control and monitor the following.
2 x valve assemblies.
2 x Pressure switches for valve confirmation.
1 x Pressure switch to monitor filter flushing.
Additional to this we are also monitoring leachate outflow from the grow bags and some post conductivity sampling also via an Atlas Scientific Analog conductivity system.
Below is a tipping bucket system we developed here in South Australia for measuring the amount of leachate running from the grow bags.
This unit measures 50mL of outflow and sends a digital pulse into the Decoder system for ICCPRO.
Note- In ICCPRO we have set up a specific measurement unit to track this vitally important data key to substrate cropping.
In summary the project has been successful in many ways, and we are pleased ICCPRO and Motorola Irrinet handled the challenge as expected.
Motorola Irrinet has many more features available for this type of project and will be key to meeting demands of an ever-increasing technology hungry world.
We hope you found this snapshot of the project interesting, and feel free to reach out for any answers to your questions.