Innovation Spurs Smarter Growing Season

University of Arizona program uses technology to improve agribusiness.

By Jenny Weaver on April 22, 2013

It’s springtime and that means it’s time to plant Arizona’s cotton crop. 

Today, farmers and other agribusiness entities know to the day what will be the ideal time for seeding. That’s thanks to a long-running machine-to-machine application developed by University of Arizona’s Tucson-based Arizona Meteorological Network (AZMET) and powered by the Verizon Wireless network. Farmers also know what temperature the soil should be for maximum crop production, how much and when to water and when to target preventative pesticides for minimum exposure.

Nearly 30 AZMET automated data collection stations are positioned throughout theArizona Technology Farming Grand Canyon State, all self-contained and solar-powered. The stations collect air and soil temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, solar radiation (sunlight), rainfall and more. The information is collected in a datalogger and wirelessly transmitted back to the AZMET office for processing each night wirelessly on the Verizon Wireless network.

In a state where the water is as precious as the sunshine is plentiful, perhaps the most significant and unique work done by AZMET is in water conservation. AZMET is the only entity in Arizona that continuously monitors the amount of water lost from a basin and returned to the atmosphere – a process known as evapotranspiration (ETo). AZMET has added four new stations along the Colorado River to monitor ETo, helping to provide critical data on the hydrologic cycle.

As AZMET grows its machine-to-machine capabilities, they are helping save water, increase crop production and lower pesticide use. That’s what you’d call smart agribusiness.