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Colloquium - Sikka

A Farm-Based Wireless Sensor/Actuator Network
Pavan Sikka
CSIRO Information and Communication Technologies Centre
4/24/2006
2:00pm-3:00pm

Agriculture accounts for a significant portion of the GDP in most developed countries. However, managing farms, particularly large-scale extensive farming systems, is hindered by lack of data and increasing shortage of labour. We have deployed a large heterogeneous sensor network on a working farm to explore sensor network applications that can address some of the issues identified above. Our network is solar powered and has been running for over 6 months. The current deployment consists of over 40 moisture sensors that provide soil moisture profiles at varying depths, weight sensors to compute the amount of food and water consumed by animals, electronic tag readers, up to 40 sensors that can be used to track animal movement (consisting of GPS, compass and accelerometers), and 20 sensor/actuators that can be used to apply different stimuli (audio, vibration and mild electric shock) to the animal. The static part of the network is designed for 24/7 operation and is linked to the Internet via a dedicated high-gain radio link, also solar powered. The initial goals of the deployment are to provide a testbed for sensor network research in programmability and data handling while also being a vital tool for scientists to study animal behavior. Our longer term aim is to create a management system that completely transforms the way farms are managed.

Pavan Sikka has a PhD in Computer Science from the University of Alberta, Canada. His initial research (including a postdoctoral position at the Australian National University) was in the use of touch for robot control. He joined the Robotics group in CSIRO in 1998 where he worked on several large field robotic projects. Since 2003 he has been working on applications of wireless sensor/actuator networks.

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