Senix Sensors Help Control Critical Water Flow in Farming and Agricultural Applications

As originally published in AZO Sensors, article authored by Senix Sensors.  Link to original article located here:

Farming and agriculture are very strong economies in the U.S. and throughout the world and are key to ensuring that humanity thrives. Farmers are adapting through advancements in agriculture, to maximize land and water resources while delivering the most nutritious food to the world’s ever-growing population.

Figure 1. SWIIM submerged orifice monitoring system in California’s Imperial Valley featuring Senix ToughSonic sensors for measurement of dynamic water levels upstream and downstream of vertical irrigation gate

Innovations in technology are occurring in many aspects of everyday life, and changing the way most business is conducted, including in farming and agriculture.  Advancements in semiconductor technologies, robotics, artificial intelligence, GPS technology, Cloud-based storage, and technology, and in all types of sensors have pulled the world into a digital era. Specifically, for farming and agriculture, these technology advancements are providing many opportunities for farmers to increase yields and profitability, while simultaneously reducing both waste and environmental impact. With climate changes that are affecting our water and land, fulfilling the global demand for food is becoming more challenging.

Figure 2. Overall view of SWIIM submerged orifice monitoring system in California’s Imperial Valley

SWIIM System measures and accounts for water used on farms. The company’s focus on water measurement and water balance analysis allows growers and water stewards to receive an accurate accounting of the water delivered to, consumed on, and where applicable, flowing from farms and fields. SWIIM offers a turn-key solution that monitors on-farm water budgets accurately and provides cost-effective, field- or crop-level, actionable data through the use of sensors, software, data loggers, telemetry, and remote sensing.

Figure 3. SWIIM laterally contracted flume in California’s Palo Verde Valley with monitoring system featuring Senix ToughSonic sensors for monitoring of water levels in upstream and throat sections

SWIIM has selected Senix ToughSonic ultrasonic distance and level sensors to use in many of their water management systems. Because SWIIM’s measurement applications demand reliable accuracy in harsh, outdoor environments varying from the hot, dusty low desert areas of California and Arizona to the mountain valleys of Colorado. The Senix ToughSonic sensors were selected due to their tough, rugged design and ability to operate reliably in extreme conditions. Senix ToughSonic IP68 rated sensors are designed with heavy-duty electronics epoxy-potted into type 316 stainless steel housings, with permanently attached cables and ruggedized piezoelectric transducers.

Figure 4. SWIIM submerged orifice monitoring system in California’s Imperial Valley featuring Senix ToughSonic sensors for water level and gate position monitoring

SWIIM uses Senix sensors to monitor water delivery and measurement structures in open-channel irrigation systems. The dynamic operation of these open channels often means that manual measurements taken several times each day cannot adequately represent frequent fluctuations in water levels and flow rates. SWIIM’s customers rely on the company’s monitoring systems to report these fluctuations in near-real time to help manage their use of precious natural resources as efficiently as possible while maintaining profitability in increasingly competitive global markets.  SWIIM’s specific applications of Senix sensors include water level monitoring in flumes, weirs, ditches, and submerged orifice turnouts. SWIIM also uses ToughSonic sensors to monitor the vertical position of manual and remote-controlled irrigation gates. Accuracy in these measurements is critical because they are used to calculate volumetric flow rates in carefully calibrated equations where errors are often compounded.

Figure 5. SWIIM broad-crested flume in Colorado’s San Luis Valley with monitoring system featuring Senix ToughSonic sensor for monitoring of water levels in upstream section

Some of SWIIM’s measurement systems must operate reliably at desert temperatures exceeding 120 degrees F and others must be ready to monitor spring runoff after months of exposure to subzero temperatures and intermittent snow and ice. The company’s technical team extensively tested the temperature compensation capabilities and durability of the ToughSonic sensors. They also depend on the averaging algorithms and digital output features because some applications require measurements as frequent as every 3 seconds to keep up with fluctuating water levels, a requirement well within the ToughSonic sensors’ capabilities.