Auraventi develops and deploys state-of-the-art machine learning and artificial intelligence technology to deliver very accurate weather forecasts, allowing control and decision-making solutions to exploit these forecasts in novel ways.

One example is in India where 90% of the fresh water extracted from groundwater is used to irrigate crops.  This has meant that 54% of the country faces an extremely high water-stress situation, where the demand for water exceeds the available supply during certain periods of the year.  This has created the need for a solution that increases the efficiency of water use.

Through the use of its Smart Control of Rural Renewable Energy and Storage (SCORRES) model,
and in collaboration with Heriot-Watt University’s Department of Computer Science and the School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society , Auraventi developed a novel micro-irrigation system. This is a cloud based system that combines localised weather forecasts and other inputs from the farmers to create an effective irrigation control system that is designed specifically to meet the needs of crops.

Martin Scherfler from Auroville Consulting, who oversees the project, explains how they worked closely with farmers to devise this system.

We factored the local irrigation practices, the amount of water required for the crop type, the consumption during the crop’s lifecycle along with the weather forecasting and local climatic conditions.  As a result, the project removes the need for costly hardware and creates a more affordable, cloud-based solution for smart irrigation.”

The result is a micro controller in the field which switches on and off depending on the irrigation requirement.  This is based on a schedule developed with the farmer and recommendations based on theoretical water balancing models.

As a result of the work undertaken by Auraventi, eight vegetables – lady’s fingers, lettuce, basil, basella, pumpkin, corn, rocket and long beans – have been grown with greatly reduced use of water and energy.

Professor Eddie Owens, director of Heriot-Watt University’s Energy Academy and leader of the SCORRES project, said, “Our irrigation system reduced water and energy use by up to 60%, and in some of the trials the crop yield doubled with an average increase in yield of 20%, enabling farmers to grow bigger vegetables and fruits, faster.”

This work has resulted in a number of benefits.  By reducing water stress, current and future environmental and social issues can be avoided.  At the same time, the system can optimise cash crop production while reducing energy and water costs.  This results in higher incomes, improving rural wealth creation opportunities and reduced Carbon Dioxide emissions.

By removing the need for costly hardware, a more affordable, cloud-based solution for smart irrigation is produced.  As it is cloud based, this approach can be applied in many areas across the world, including remote and islanded communities.

The success of this work has now been recognised internationally and the project recently won both the Rushlight Resource Innovation award  and the Water Management award.  The Rushlight Awards are designed specifically to identify and promote all the latest clean technologies, innovations, initiatives and deployment projects for businesses and other organisations throughout UK and internationally.