One of the core concepts behind smart farming is the “cyclic optimization process where data have to be collected from the field, analysed and evaluated and finally used for decision making for site-specific management of the field”.

This core concept can be provided at several levels of cost and complexity that may not be suitable for the needs of smallholders. For instance, commercial soil moisture sensors, capable of sensing water conditions at several depths can cost thousands of euros. The entire hardware and software platform to manage irrigation in a farm represents an investment (both in terms of money and complexity) that may appear profitable for large farms with technical persons in place but that can hardly be cost-effective for smallholders without technology background.

In many “traditional”  architecture, the smallholder is bound to the infrastructure provider as the control system is sold as “Software as a Service” (SaaS) on Internet Clouds with substantial annual fees. In addition, in the context of smallholders, even though there are irrigation techniques that are well-known to be more efficient than others, the cost of installing the infrastructure for a new irrigation technique can also be overwhelming.

Low-cost irrigation control system
Irrigation system "in-the-box"
Embedded decision-making and AI processing