Western Grower & Shipper 2018 03MarApr

WATERBIT Tech to Simplify Irrigation and Make Smarter Water Decisions in Real Time

By Stephanie Thara Metzinger C an smart technology offer remote irrigation for agriculture that’s affordable? With the help of WaterBit, the answer is “absolutely.” When Manu Pillai, founder of WaterBit, was growing up in Nigeria, prolonged droughts were a typical occurrence. The massive shortage of water supply wiped out agriculture and devastated the country, severely hindering the ability of Nigeria’s economy to thrive. Pillai saw how it depleted his homeland and wanted to develop a solution that would address this issue globally. “The idea of sensors came to mind,” said Pillai. “We needed something that would be able to monitor soil and crop conditions and deliver the precise amount of water needed for a grower’s specific acreage.” Pillai started refining his idea through his treks across the world. He traveled with his father, who worked for the United Nations, and had the opportunity to live in numerous countries to observe how each community received, accessed and controlled water. When he was ready to put pen to paper, he founded WaterBit with Leif Chastaine in 2015. And in 2017, with the help of TJ Rodgers, he recruited Andrew Wright, a former Cypress Semiconductor executive vice president, to help assemble the building blocks for an invention that would have the potential to revolutionize irrigation. WaterBit now offers a complete irrigation program that allows growers to automate irrigation across their crops . HOWWATERBIT WORKS “Essentially, we offer a complete package that can be installed in a matter of minutes,” said Leif Chastaine, chief operating officer of WaterBit. “We put sensors into the ground, set up the communication gateway and, in minutes, data from the sensors is sent to the cloud where the grower has easy access to analysis and scheduling tools that enable control of irrigation block valves.” More specifically, the following four components of the WaterBit technology work together to act as one cohesive solution: • Monitoring (WaterBit Carbon): Small, solar powered telemetry nodes—or Carbon nodes—are connected to sensors, including capacitive soil moisture probes, to monitor soil moisture and field conditions. They can also control actuators and relays. Carbon nodes are long-range and can communicate to WaterBit Connect thousands of feet away (up to 1.5 miles under foliage). • Communication (WaterBit Connect): WaterBit Connect gateways provide connectivity between Carbon nodes

14   Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com   MARCH | APRIL 2018

Made with FlippingBook Online newsletter