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Avocado Farmer Senses A Way To Cut Costs
- Aug 15, 2016 -
Avocado Farmer Senses a Way to Cut Costs

Rather than trying to optimize the ZigBee sensors, Bantle decided to evaluate different technologies. At the time, low-power, long-range radio networks (LPWAN), operating in an unlicensed ISM band, were starting to hit the market and Bantle was intrigued by LoRa, a LPWAN protocol developed by IBM, Semtech and more than 10 other technology and telecommunications providers.

The LoRa network that Bantle deployed has been running for roughly one year, and comprises 20 moisture sensors that measure the soil's water level based on its electrical resistance, as well as 10 thermistors. Two moisture sensors (one positioned near the topsoil and another set more deeply) and one thermistor are wired to eachmicrocontroller, which is paired with a LoRa radio, provided by Multitech Systems.

Every 10 minutes, the sensors transmit their readings over the LoRa radio to a gateway, provided by Multitech. The gateway contains an embedded SIM (eSIM) provided by Spirent partner Oasis. Embedded SIMs are chips that are soldered into devices and programmed, over the air, with a SIM profile that allows the device to be commissioned to a specific cellular network but which can later be overwritten with a different operator's profile. (Remote SIM provisioning is an approach that the mobile phone industry association GSMAdeveloped in order to improve the versatility and lifecycle of machine-to-machine hardware that may be deployed in large quantities or remotely. This would make the task of physically replacing SIM cards impractical in the event that the organization responsible for the network would like to switch to a different cellular operator.)

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