COMMON Sense Net : Water management for agriculture in semi-arid areas by means of wireless sensor networks

ICTs, Environment

3.2004 – 3.2008

Partner Institutions

Institution: Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore
Department: Center for Electronic design and Technology (CEDT)
Address: Bangalore 560012 India
Phone & fax: +91 – 80 – 23 60 08 10 / 23 60 08 08
Direction: H.S. Jamadagni
Colleague: André Pittet, Prabhakar TV


Institute: Institut des systèmes de communication (ISC)
Laboratoire des communications et applications (LCA1)
Faculty: Environnement Naturel, Architectural et Construit (ENAC)
Address: Bât INN, Ecublens
1015 Lausanne, Suisse
Phone & fax: +41 21 – 693 56 13 / 693 66 10
Direction: Prof. Jean-Pierre Hubaux
Colleagues: Jacques Panchard


The problem of agricultural water management is today widely recognized as a major challenge that is often linked with development issues. In the semi-arid areas of developing countries, marginal farmers and small farmers (with a land holding between 2 and 4 hectares) who cannot afford to pay for powered irrigation, heavily depend on the rainfall for their crops.

Based on a study conducted over a decade in the semi-arid region in Karnataka, India, it is by now recognized that reliable local metrological data and knowledge of soil moisture and ground water conditions can improve significantly agricultural management. Sensors are a relevant answer to that challenge. However, a stand-alone sensor, due to its limited range, can only monitor a small portion of its environment. Because we target communities of farmers who have to monitor jointly their water resources (for their crop, their cattle and themselves), and because ground and crop conditions can change significantly from one parcel to the next, the use of several sensors working in a network seems particularly appropriate.

The COMMON-Sense Net project (for Community-Oriented Management and Monitoring Of Natural resources via a Sensor network) aims at designing and developing an integrated network of sensors for agricultural management in the semi-arid rural areas of developing countries. In addition of having an effect on yield and efficiency at the local level, the system will allow for the collection of extensive data that can be also used to better understand the effects of water – and possibly other environmental parameters – on agriculture, and thus to develop replicable strategies.

COMMON-Sense Net consists in a wireless network of ground-sensors that record periodically the state (salinity, humidity, etc.) of the soil, while subterranean sensors monitor the level and quality of ground-water. In our system design, sensors record data on a periodic basis and send them in a multi-hop fashion to a centralized processing unit, which correlates them with external data and models in order to assess the optimal water management strategy. The centralized processing unit can be linked to external meteorological servers to get the global data useful for its computations. This can be done, depending on the environment, through a wired or wireless connection, or a satellite link.

The benefits of using a self-organized wireless network of sensors lies in the ease of deployment and the resilience of the network against nodes failures.

For more information