After the release of ONDO AIR Points, allowing time- and cost-efficient ONDO installs for large farms, our team recently had to solve another open field farm challenge – fuel-efficient, human-unattended and smooth automation for open field farms having no electricity.

Of course when thinking about alternatives for electricity, we all know there are diesel generators and those are commonly used in open field farms since they can supply the needed power to operate the irrigation and fertigation equipment. But, we saw that using a diesel generator for precision farming automation was inefficient and did not allow for complete automation, which opened up new challenges to be resolved.

The Challenges

Our ONDO customer had sourced a diesel generator for their huge open field berry farm to power up the ONDO automation equipment as well as the booster pump of the fertigation equipment, when this equipment is operational. After initially using the generator, however, we spotted numerous disadvantages:

* The generator was frequently powering itself on to charge its battery, causing excessive fuel consumption and increased environmental footprint
* The above was also causing unneeded wear and tear on the generator equipment
* The generator required regular human monitoring, so it does not run out of fuel and take air in, resulting in costly repairs

The solutions

To solve the issues above, our engineering team recommended the addition of a solar power system, which would entirely be in charge of keeping the ONDO controller alive. Thanks to the minimal power consumption of the ONDO controller, the solar battery could keep it running for 6-7 days, even with complete absence of sunlight (which is hardly the case in the crop season). We also added a hybrid inverter which, in addition to converting the 12V voltage to 220V required by the ONDO controller, was also programmed to charge the solar battery when the diesel generator was working.

We also wanted ONDO to fully control the diesel generator, so we configured the generator to start and switch off upon receiving command from ONDO. Moreover – when turning off the engine, we are also turning off the generator’s controller, to avoid generator internal battery discharge.

Being reliably charged 24/7, the ONDO controller would thus turn the generator controller on when an irrigation/fertigation program is about to run and the generator controller would then start the engine. Similarly, when an irrigation/fertigation program has ended, ONDO controller would turn off the generator engine, allowing it to cool off, and then switch off the generator controller as well.

The benefits

Under the new implementation, we guaranteed that the ONDO controller would be alive 24/7. We also achieved more efficient work of the diesel generator, which is now turning on only when an irrigation/fertigation program is running and then staying shut down for the rest of the time. This results in:

* Fewer recharge cycles for the battery
* Less human involvement and chances for human error
* Less fuel consumption and hence, cleaner environment and reduced fuel costs for the farmer
* Less operational time for the generator, reducing the equipment wear off and potential maintenance costs

This off-the-grid, very efficient ONDO automation has been smoothly working in the customer farm for months now. We are glad that, in line with ONDO’s vision to create precision farming automation solutions that are easy to use, efficient and accessible to every farmer, we achieved a very resource-efficient, low-maintenance and error-prone automation for yet another customer.

If you are an open-field farmer and are interested in ONDO precision farming automation for your farm as well, get in touch for a free consultation.