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The energy may be electrical, mechanical, chemical, optical or thermal. Classification Transducer may be classified according to their Application Method of energy conversion Nature of the output signal etc,. Transducer that gives electrical energy as output is known as electrical transducer. The Output electrical signal may be voltage or current The production of these signal is based upon resistive and capacitive effects. Transducer that converts the mechanical force into displacement and then into electrical parameter. Transducer may also classified as Active transducer Passive transducer Active transducer also known as self generating type developing their own voltage or current as output signal. PV cell, thermo couple, piezo electric transducer, photo electric transducer. Passive transducer also known as externally powered transducer. They derive the power required for energy conversion from an external power source. LVDT, capacitive transducer, RTD. Basic requirements of a transducer. 1. Linearity The input-output should be linear. 2.Ruggedness The transducer should withstand overloads, with measures for over load protection. 3.Repeatability The transducer should produce identical output signal when the same input signal is applied at different times under the same environmental condition. 4. High stability and reliability The output from the transducer should not be affected by temperature, vibration and other environmental variation and their should be minimum error in measurements. 5.Good dynamic response The transducer should response to the changes in input as quickly as possible. 1
6. Convenient instrumentation The transducer should produce a sufficiently high analog output signal with high signal to noise ratio. So that the output can be measured either directly or after suitable amplification. 7. Good mechanical characteristic working conditions – subject to mechanical strains external forces – deformity /affect performance Transducers – Principle Transducers converts energy from one form into another and the out put as electrical signal by using the principal effects like variation in resistance, capacitance, inductance, piezo electric and thermal effects. Classification of transducers
Miller index - three dimensional vector [x y z] . [input energy, output energy, modulating energy] Transducer Miller index Transistor Thermocouple pH meter LED display LCD display Coil Magnetoresistor Photoconductor [el el el] [th, el, 00] [ch, el, 00] [el, ra, 00] [ra, ra, el] [ma, el, 00] [ma, el, el] [ra, el, el] Modulating shape transducer Self-generating input transducer Self-generating input transducer Self-generating output transducer Modulating output transducer Self-generating output transducer Modulating input transducer Modulating input transducer [x y z] Type description
CAPACITIVE TYPES OF TRANSDUCER Capacitor : It is a most widely used passive elements in circuits. These are devices which can store electric charge. The capacitance of a parallel plate capacitor is given by
C = ε oε r
The capacitance between two conductive surfaces varies with three major factors: the overlapping area(A) of those two surfaces, the distance between them(d), and the dielectric constant(εo & εr) of the material in between the surfaces. If two out of three of these variables can be fixed (stabilized) and the third allowed to vary, then any measurement of capacitance between the surfaces will be solely indicative of changes in that third variable. The value of capacitance is determined by: (a) The area of the plates (b) The distance between the plates (c) The type of dielectric between the plates Some transducers work by making one of the capacitor plates movable, either in such a way as to vary the overlapping area or the distance between the plates. Other transducers work by moving a dielectric material in and out between two fixed plates: Capacitive transducer can be classified as 1. Variable capacitive transducer 2. Differential capacitive transducer
Variable capacitive transducer varies; (a) area of overlap, (b) distance between plates, (c) amount of dielectric between plates.
Transducers with greater sensitivity and immunity to changes in other variables can be obtained by way of differential design. Differential capacitive transducer varies capacitance ratio by changing: (a) area of overlap, (b) distance between plates, (c) dielectric between plates.
The differential devices shown in the above illustration have three wire connections rather than two: one wire for each of the “end” plates and one for the “common” plate. As the capacitance between one of the “end” plates and the “common” plate changes, the capacitance between the other “end” plate and the “common” plate is such to change in the opposite direction. This kind of transducer lends itself very well to implementation in a bridge circuit: (Figure below)
Differential capacitive transducer bridge measurement circuit.
In capacitor microphone the principle of variation in distance between parallel plates is used.
When a force (sound pressure) is applied to a diaphragm which acts as one plate of a capacitor the distance between the diaphragm and the static plate 5
is changed. The resulting change in capacitance can be measured by an a.c bridge or by other measures which gives the measure of the applied force. Medical researchers have long made use of capacitive sensing to detect physiological changes in living bodies. As early as 1907, a German researcher named H. Cremer placed two metal plates on either side of a beating frog heart and measured the capacitance changes resulting from the heart alternately filling and emptying itself of blood. Similar measurements have been performed on human beings with metal plates placed on the chest and back, recording respiratory and cardiac action by means of capacitance changes.
INDUCTIVE TRANSDUCER Inductor : Passive component used in electronic circuits.It stores energy in the form of magnetic field. when a force is applied to the ferromagnetic armature, the air gap is
changed. The applied force is measured by change of inductance in a single coil.
Linear variable differential transformer
An alternating current is driven through the primary, causing a voltage to be induced in each secondary coils proportional to its mutual inductance with the primary. The frequency is usually in the range 1 to 10 kHz.
The linear variable differential transformer (LVDT) is a type of electrical transformer used for measuring linear displacement. The transformer has three coils and a rod shaped ferromagnetic core. The centre coil is the primary, and the two outer coils are the secondary coils. A cylindrical ferromagnetic core, is positioned centrally inside the tube. It slides along the axis of the tube. The primary coil (P) are energised with Alternate Current. This produces an alternating magnetic field in the centre of the transducer which induces a signal (voltage V1 & V2) into the secondary windings (S & S ) depending on the position of the core. The secondary coils are connected in series so that the output signal (voltage) is the difference (V1 – V2) (hence "differential") between the two secondary voltages. 8
If the coil is placed ideally in the central position V1 = V2 and hence the output voltage is zero.
When the core is displaced in one direction, the voltage in one coil increases as the other decreases, causing the output voltage to increase from zero to a maximum. This voltage is in phase with the primary voltage. When the core moves in the other direction, the output voltage also increases from zero to a maximum, but its phase is opposite to that of the primary. The magnitude of the output voltage is proportional to the distance moved by the core (up to its limit of travel), which is why the device is described as "linear". The phase of the voltage indicates the direction of the displacement.
The distinct advantage of using an LVDT displacement transducer is that the moving core does not touch the inside of the tube and does not make contact with other electrical components of the assembly, offers high reliability and long life. Further, the core can be so aligned that an air gap exists around it, ideal for applications where minimum mechanical friction is required. The LVDT design is used for Position feedback in servomechanisms Automated measurement in machine tools and many other industrial and scientific applications Applications such as material testing machines, automotive/aerospace test rigs and actuators, etc. Their small physical size also makes them ideally suited for use in load cells, pressure transducers, weighing systems
Although the LVDT is a displacement sensor, many other physical quantities can be sensed by converting displacement to the desired quantity via thoughtful arrangements. Several examples will be given. 1. Displacement Extensometers, temperature transducers, butterfly valve control, servo valve displacement sensing 2. Deflection of Beams, Strings, or Rings Load cells, force transducers, pressure transducers
Diaphragm Pressure gage 3. Thickness Variation of Work Pieces Dimension gages, thickness and profile measurements, product sorting by size
Profile Gage 11
4. Fluid Level fluid level and fluid flow measurement, position sensing in hydraulic cylinders
Fluid Level Gage
Temperature is the most frequently measured process variable, and any material with a temperature sensitive characteristic can be used as a thermometer. Electrical temperature sensing devices can be used for remote temperature measuring and signaling. We will compare the thermocouple, thermistor and RTD methods. Thermoelectric Effect There are three major effects involved in a thermocouple circuit: the Seebeck, Peltier, and Thomson effects. Seebeck Effect The basis of thermocouples was established by Thomas Johann Seebeck in 1821 when he discovered that a conductor generates a voltage when subjected to a temperature gradient. To measure this voltage, one must use a second conductor material which generates a different voltage under the same temperature gradient. Otherwise, if the same material was used for the measurement, the voltage generated by the measuring conductor would simply cancel that of the first conductor. The voltage difference generated by the two materials can then be measured and related to the corresponding temperature gradient. It is thus clear that, based on Seebeck's principle, thermocouples can only measure temperature differences and need a known reference temperature to yield the abolute readings. Peltier effect Peltier effect describes the temperature difference generated by EMF and is the reverse of Seebeck effect. Thomson effect Thomson effect relates the reversible thermal gradient and EMF in a homogeneous conductor Thermocouple Circuit A typical thermocouple circuit can be illustrated as follows: The Seebeck effect describes the voltage or electromotive force (EMF) induced by the temperature difference (gradient) along the wire. The change in material EMF with respect to a change in temperature is called the Seebeck coefficient or thermoelectric sensitivity.
Suppose that the Seebeck coefficients of two dissimilar metallic materials, metal A and metal B, and the lead wires are SA, SB, and SLead respectively. All three Seebeck coefficients are functions of temperature. The voltage output Vout measured at the gage (see schematic above) is, If the Seebeck coefficient functions of the two thermocouple wire materials
are pre-calibrated and the reference temperature TRef is known (usually set by a 0°C ice bath), the temperature at the probe tip becomes the only unknown and can be directly related to the voltage readout. Thermocouple The Thermocouple is a thermoelectric temperature sensor/ measuring device which consists of two dissimilar metallic wires, e.g., one chromel and one constantan, coupled at the probe tip (measurement junction) and extended to the reference (known temperature) junction. A thermocouple is made by joining materials with different Seebeck coefficients. Two wires from dissimilar metals are joined at one end. The emf is generated when a temperature gradient exists between this wire junction and a reference junction. This measurable change of electric potential is the basis of the thermocouple method. The most common materials used in thermocouples are iron-constantan, copper-constantan, chromel-constantan, and two different platinum alloys. Table 1 shows various thermocouple types and materials.
Layouts of Typical Thermocouples Thermocouple junctions come in three basic forms: (1) exposed, (2) grounded and (3) ungrounded. Exposed junction was designed for faster response. Insulation is sealed beyond the exposed junction tip to prevent penetration of moisture or gas to the inner thermocouple. Grounded junction is used for high-pressure gas and liquid applications, provides faster response.
Pros: - Low cost. - No moving parts, less likely to be broken. - Wide temperature range. - Reasonably short response time. - Reasonable repeatability and accuracy. • Cons: - Sensitivity is low, usually 50 µV/°C (28 µV/°F) or less. Its low voltage output may be masked by noise. This problem can be improved, but not eliminated, by better signal filtering, shielding, and analog-todigital (A/V) conversion. - Accuracy, usually no better than 0.5 °C (0.9°F), may not be high enough for some applications. - Requires a known temperature reference, usually 0°C (32°F) ice water. Modern thermocouples, on the other hand, rely on an electrically 15
generated reference. - Nonlinearity could be bothersome. Fortunately, detail calibration curves for each wire material can usually be obtained from vendors.
Thermistors A thermistor or thermal resistor is a semiconductor composed of metallic oxides such as manganese, nickel, cobalt, copper, iron, and titanium. Thermistors are fabricated in wafer, disk, bead, and other shapes. The resistance of thermistors decreases with increasing temperature. Thermistor applications are based on the resistance-temperature characteristic of a thermistor. Thermistors give a relatively large output (change of resistance) for a small temperature change. This output can be transmitted over a large distance. The amount of change per °C is expressed by Beta value (material constant) or Alpha coefficient (resistance temperature coefficient). The larger Alpha or Beta the greater the change in resistance with temperature, and the temperature versus resistance curve is steeper. The thermistor has very high temperature coefficient of resistance of the order of 3 to 5 % per °C, making it an ideal temperature transducer. The resistance versus temperature relationship is not linear. The resistance at any temperature T, is given by
1 1 RT = R0 exp β − T T 0
RT = Thermistor resistance at Temperature T(K) R0 = Thermistor resistance at Temperature T0 (K) β = Constant Thermistors are the most sensitive of all the temperature sensing elements. Small dimensions of wafer, bead, disc and chip thermistors result in a rapid response time. This is especially useful for control system feedback. Thermistors are able to handle mechanical and thermal shocks better than any other temperature measuring device. Table 2 is a comparison chart for thermocouples and thermistors.
Irrigation System Controllers A controller is an integral part of an irrigation system. It is an essential tool to apply water in the necessary quantity and at the right time to sustain agricultural production and to achieve high levels of efficiency in water, energy and chemical uses. Irrigation controllers have been available for many years in the form of mechanical and electromechanical irrigation timers. These devices have evolved into complex computer-based systems that allow accurate control of water, energy and chemicals while responding to environmental changes and development stages of the crop. BASIC CONTROL STRATEGIES Two general types of controllers are used to control irrigation systems: 1. Open control loop systems, 2. Closed control loop systems. The difference between these is that • • Closed control loops have feedback from sensors, make decisions and apply decisions to the irrigation system. On the other hand, open control loop systems apply a preset action, as is done with irrigation timers. 1. Open Control Loop Systems • • • • • In an open control loop system, a decision is made by the operator. The amount of water and the time at which this water should be applied is decided by the operator and set an irrigation controller according the desired schedule. Open loop control systems use irrigation duration or applied volume for control purposes. Figure 1 shows the basic components of an open loop time- based irrigation controller. Open loop controllers are also constructed in such a way that a clock is used to start irrigation and the application of a given volume to stop irrigation. In this type of controller the parameters set by the system operator are how often and the volume of water to be applied.
Advantages of open loop system • • • Low cost Readily available The devices are manufactured with different degrees of flexibility related to the number of stations and schedule specification. Disadvantages of open loop system • open loop system do not respond automatically to changing conditions in the environment and require frequent resetting to achieve high levels of irrigation efficiency.
2. Closed Control Loop Systems • In a closed control loop the operator sets up a general strategy for control. • Once the general strategy is defined, the control system takes over and makes detailed decisions of when to apply water and how much water to apply. • This type of system requires that feedback be given back to the controller by one or more sensors. Depending on the feedback of the sensors, the irrigation decisions are made and actions are carried out if necessary. • It is important to note that in this type of systems the feedback and control of the system is done continuously. • Figure 2 shows the elementary components of this type of system.
Closed loop controllers require data acquisition of environmental parameters, such as, soil-moisture, temperature, radiation, wind-speed and relative humidity. The state of the system (for example measured soil-moisture using a sensor as illustrated in Figure 2 ) is compared against a desired state and a decision based on this comparison is made whether irrigation should be applied or not.
Closed loop controllers for irrigation systems is based on the decisions
1. Direct measurement of soil-moisture using sensors 2. Calculations of water used by the plants based on climatic parameters, 3. Both soil moisture sensors and climatic parameter measurements. 21
The simplest form of a closed loop control system is that of a high frequency irrigation controller that is interrupted by a moisture sensor. Figure 3 shows this system.
The sensor in Figure 3 is wired into the line that supplies power from the controller to the electric solenoid valve.
(A solenoid valve is an electromechanical valve for use with liquid or gas controlled by running or stopping an electrical current through a solenoid, which is a coil of wire, thus changing the state of the valve. The operation of a solenoid valve is similar to that of a light switch, but typically controls the flow of air or water, whereas a light switch typically controls the flow of electricity. Solenoid valves may have two or more ports: in the case of a two-port valve the flow is switched on or off; in the case of a three-port valve, the outflow is switched between the two outlet ports. Multiple solenoid valves can be placed together on a manifold) • The sensor operates as a switch that responds to soil moisture. When sufficient soilmoisture is available in the soil, the sensor maintains the circuit open. When soilmoisture drops below a certain threshold, the sensing device closes the circuit, allowing the controller to power the electrical valve. • Using their arrangement in Figure 3, the controller can be set to irrigate at a very high frequency (4 or 5 times more often than required).
When the controller attempts to irrigate, irrigation will occur only if the soil-moisture sensor allows it, which in turn occurs only when soil-moisture has dropped below acceptable levels.
The feedback system in Figure 3 is very low cost and is easy to install and maintain. However, the system has limitations: o Determining the best location of the sensor which requires some knowledge of soil-water and root dynamics, spatial variability of soil properties
IRRIGATION TIMERS Irrigation timers are simple controllers consisting of clock units capable of activating one or more subunits of the irrigation system at specified times. Irrigation timers have the following functions: • • • • • • • A clock/timer. Provides the basic time measurements by which schedules are executed. A calendar selector. This function allows definition of which days the system is to operate. Station time setting. This function allows definition of start time and duration for each station. Master switch. This function prevents activation of any station connected to the timer. Station omission. This function is used to omit any specified number of stations from the next irrigation cycle. Master valve control. Provides control to a master system valve. Pump start lead. This feature allows a pump start solenoid to be activated whenever a station is activated, thus tying pump control with irrigation control. The two most common types of controller designs are electromechanical and electronic. Electromechanical Controllers • • Electromechanical controllers use an electrically driven clock and mechanical switching (gear arrays) to activate the irrigation stations. These types of controllers are generally very reliable and not too sensitive to the quality of the power available. 23
They generally are not affected by spikes and surges in the power and such magnitude will damage the motor. Even if there is a power outage, the programmed schedule will not be lost and is generally delayed only for the duration of the power outage.
Electronic Controllers • • • • Electronic controllers rely on Integrated circuits to provide the clock/timer, memory and control functions. These systems are more sensitive to power line quality than electromechanical controllers and may be affected by spikes and surges. These type of systems may require electrical suppression devices in order to operate reliably. Because of the inherent flexibility of electronic devices, these controllers tend to be very flexible and provide a large number of features at a relatively low cost. COMPUTER-BASED IRRIGATION CONTROL SYSTEMS A computer-based control system consists of a combination of hardware and software that acts as a supervisor with the purpose of managing irrigation and other related practices such as fertigation and maintenance. This is done by the use of a closed control loop. A closed control loop consists of: 1) Monitoring the state of variables 2) Comparing the state of variables with their desired or target state 3) Deciding what actions are necessary to change the state of the system 4) Carrying out the necessary actions. To Perform these functions it requires a combination of hardware and software that must be implemented for each specific application. Hardware Components Figure 6 shows the basic components of a closed loop control system, each of the hardware elements is described below. 24
Sensors A sensor is a device placed in the system that produces an electrical signal directly related to the parameter that is to be measured. In general, there are two types of sensors, continuous and discrete (see Figure 7 ): a) Continuous.
Continuous sensors produce a continuous electrical signal, such as a voltage, current, conductivity, capacitance, or any other measurable electrical property. For example, sensors of different kinds can be used to measure temperature, such as thermistors and thermocouples. A thermocouple will produce a voltage difference that increases as the temperature increases.
Continuous sensors are used where values taken by a state variable are required and an on/off state is not sufficient, for example, to measure pressure drop across a sand filter.
b) Discrete. • • Discrete sensors are basically switches, mechanical or electronic, that indicate whether an on or off condition exists. Discrete sensors are useful for indicating thresholds, such as the opening and closure of devices (vents, doors, alarms, valves, etc.). They can also be used to determine if a threshold of an important state variable has been reached. • Some examples of discrete sensors are o a float switch to detect if the level in a storage tank is below a minimum desirable level, o a switching tensiometer to detect if soil moisture is above a desired threshold o a thermostat to indicate if a certain temperature has been reached. • When combined with time, pulses from switches can be used to measure rates. For example, to the volume of fuel, water or chemical solution passing through a totalizing flow meter with a magnetically activated switch, or the speed of a rotating flywheel. • • Sensors are an extremely important component of the control loop because they provide the basic data that drive an automatic control system. An important factor related to the sensor is its time response. A sensor must deliver a signal that reflects the state of the system within the frame of time required by the application. • • • Using the soil moisture measurement example, the sensor must be able to "keep up" with the changes in soil moisture that are caused by evapotranspiration. Thus, proper selection of the sensors and understanding the principle of operation is critical to the success of a control system. Some of the variables that are often measured in computer based control systems are the following: 1) Flow rate, 2) Pressure, 3) soil-moisture, 4) Air temperature, 5) wind speed, 6) Solar radiation, 7) Relative humidity, 26
8) Total salts in irrigation water 9) pH of irrigation water. A/D interface Since computer systems work internally with numbers (digits), the electrical signals resulting from the sensors must be converted to digital data (see Figure 8 ). This is done through specialized hardware referred to as the Analog-to-Digital (A/D) interface. Discrete signals resulting from switch closures and threshold measurements are converted to 0 and 1. Continuous electrical (analog) signals produced by the sensors signals are converted to a number related to the level of the sensed variable. The accuracy of the conversion is affected by the resolution of the conversion equipment. In general, the higher the resolution the better the accuracy.
Computer system The A/D conversion hardware is directly connected to the computer system. Given the current state of technology, the computer system may be a PC (personal computer), a minicomputer, or a specially designed machine that is solely dedicated to the control task. The type of machine depends on the type of application, and is greatly affected by factors such as environment characteristics, complexity of the controlled system, and the speed with which conversions need to take place. Many agricultural applications can be economically carried out using personal computers (PC), as is evident by the increasing number of system integrators and equipment manufactures that are marketing PC-based control systems. Also, many manufacturers of control equipment have designed and manufactured specialized computer control systems.
Control Interface: Using control software, decisions may be made to modify the controlled system. The changes are achieved by having devices within the system that will affect the controlled variables. These devices are controlled through actuators that respond to signals from the control interface. For example, the extension of a robot arm of a citrus harvesting robot requires the use of a continuous signal from the computer, while a fan or a valve requires only an on/off (discrete) signal from the computer. Software Components The software is used to implement procedures as they apply to the controlled system. These procedures are usually very elaborate, but in a well-engineered piece of software, they are transparent to the user. Because the user is more concerned with ease of use and performance of the system, good quality software has an interface that allows easy definition of the characteristics of the system to be controlled and simplifies the assignment of hardware resources. Performance is measured by how well the computer control system maintains the desired state. ACTUATORS (AUTOMATIC VALVES) Valves specifically designed for remote control are an important component of the irrigation control system. These types of valves are constructed using different materials. Typically brass, stainless steel and a wide array of plastics. Different valve actuation designs are used to operate the valves: 1) diaphragm type, 2) piston type, 3) and electric thermal motor type.
Crop establishment and monitoring Objective Objective of monitoring involves taking physical measurements/observations of relevant crop parameters for comparison with known benchmarks or targets to assist with crop management and to facilitate the evaluation of crop performance. Typically crop monitoring involves the recording of information relating to climate, nutrition, pests and diseases, crop development, water use, crop husbandry and crop performance parameters. This information can be used to establish the yield potential of a crop. Crop performance was influenced by factors other than moisture such as: • Timeliness of operations • Weeds • Pests and diseases • Nutrition • Plant population • Other climatic factors The first step in a crop monitoring program is to establish the potential yield. This can be used actively during the growth of the crop to influence management, or passively after the crop has been grown, as an indicator of how the crop should have performed. Once potential has been estimated, the crop's requirements can be calculated and incorporated in its management. As the season progresses, monitoring of the relevant characteristics will allow for the potential yield estimates and management to be adjusted accordingly. CROP ESTABLISHMENT A. Plant population Once the crop has emerged (at the 2 to 5 leaf stage) it is useful to evaluate crop establishment, with plant counts showing if the target population has been achieved. If not, the reasons like sowing depth, type and number of weeds, soil factors should be determined. This will identify areas for improvement in future years and, if the population is very low, allow for an adjustment in management. 29
B. Tillering If the crop establishment is within an acceptable range, tiller numbers become the next crop characteristic to be considered. If the plants do not tiller as expected then most often nutrition, particularly nitrogen, will be the cause. From early tillering, tissue N levels can be monitored using Sap-Nitrate or NIR to compare actual levels with known desirable concentrations. If these readings indicate a lower than expected concentration then nitrogen can be top-dressed. C. Flowering - Once the crop has commenced flowering there are several important issues. 1. Head numbers - If head numbers are lower than tiller counts, this may be indicative of nutritional limitations, particularly nitrogen. 2. Weed control - The weed control program will have been completed and can be evaluated. This is important to identify possible existence of herbicide resistance and the general performance of the control measures used. 3.Pests and diseases - The presence of pests and diseases needs to be identified to ensure that, re appropriate action is carried out to reduce their impact. Recording their occurrence is also vital for future planning. 4. Soil water - Measurement of soil water at flowering will also give an indication of the amount of rainfall required to achieve the anticipated yield. D. Harvest Harvest is the final stage of the crop program and there are several parameters which need to be observed and recorded. 1. Head numbers - The number of heads at harvest will allow for the calculation of tiller survival. A low survival post- flowering generally indicates moisture stress or the presence of disease or insects. 2. Grain yield and quality - While it may seem obvious, it is necessary to record both yield and quality to fully evaluate the performance of a paddock. Even if a paddock yields extremely well, protein below desired levels indicates that there is room for further improvement. 30
3. Soil water - Measurement of soil water at harvest allows for the calculation of water use efficiency which in turn provides an excellent means for comparison of crop performance between crops and years which may have had greatly varying rainfall. Recording format Throughout the season it is also necessary to record the dates at which activities are carried out and the rates of the various inputs being used. Recording rainfall is a vital component of crop monitoring There are many number of ways in which this information can be recorded. The format should allows farmers to easily compare their results with other farmers. These forms also provide useful information about the various targets and benchmarks relating to crop monitoring. There is, however, no right or wrong way to record the information as long as it contains the necessary details and is easily understood. Instruments for Crop establishment monitoring 1. Drilling • Monitors for seed drills alert the driver, to know the blockage in any of the seed delivery tube.
The photoelectric type sensor is placed near the bottom of each tube The photocells receives illumination from a light source (LED) on the opposite side of the tube and registers the interruption of this light caused by the passage of the falling seed.
• • • • • • • •
In the monitor unit contains row lamps corresponding to the number of delivery tubes on the seed drill. Each lamp flashes as the photocell in the corresponding delivery tube registers the passage of the seed. Information on both planting density and area covered at any time is also possible. An additional sensor is provided to measure the distance covered which can be a pulse generator operated from a ground wheel. The row spacing used is set on the instrument. The monitor will provide information on area covered by incorporating the distance covered and the actual working width. The population count /acre is displayed for a selected row digitally by the operation of ROW SELECTOR and population selector switch. By selecting a SCAN switch setting a read out is displayed for each row, sequentially at intervals, allowing a rapid check of all rows.
The audible alarm on the monitor indicate the electrical fault conditions.
2. Transplanting • Some crops are established by growing seedlings in compact blocks and transplanting them semi automatically or automatically in the field. 32
Although a high rate of germination and viable seedling growth characterize the block growing methods, empty blocks do occur and will be planted by automatic machines unless some detection and rejection method is incorporated.
There are two methods for the detection of seedlings for automatic row crop thinning. The first method is based on a simple contact sensor which forms part of the GATE circuit of an FET. The sensor is able to detect seedlings in the ground with a high degree of reliability.
• • • •
The second method is a non contacting type. The sensor employs a small lamp which illuminates a patch of soil via simple optical systems. The same patch of soil is viewed by two silicon photo cells in as integrated circuit. Both cells receive the reflected light from the soil via dichroic mirror which direct the light in the wave band below 700nm to one cell and transmit the reminder to the second cell,
An electronic circuit derives the ratio of the two output signals from the photo cells. The reflectivity of the soil varies considerably over the visible and infrared wave band and even more between soils of different types and the infra red/visible reflectance ratio doesn’t rise much above 5 :1.
If the seedling is in the field of view the chlorophyll in the leave absorbs strongly in the green region of the visible band, and the measured infra red/visible reflectance ratio is substantially greater than 5 : 1.
Using this principle and scanning the light beam laterally to the direction of travel, it is possible by an automatic thinner/transplanter to pick out a seedling and to detect empty blocks.
3. Crop spraying • Electronic systems available for crop spraying measure the forward speed of the tractor and flow rate of the spray liquid from the bulk tank into spray lines.
Speed measurement • • • Simple method of speed measurement is, a magnet is fixed to a non driven wheel and sensor is fixed on the wheel support. Sensor will sense the passage of magnet as the wheel rotates. Magnetically operated reed switch can be used as a sensor. The output pulse is a measure of the rate of revolution of the wheel. It can be converted to forward speed if a circumference of the wheel is known and it can be entered into the electronic unit manually. Flow measurement • • • It can be measured by using the corrosion proof propeller flow meters. Like wheel sensor they are also produce digital signal which needs conversion to measure the quantity. In the another method flow is measured by the measurement of spray line pressure. The quantity of fluid is directly proportional to the square root of the pressure.
Monitor • • The central display unit incorporates the information of flow measurement and implement’s width. From this information it can determine and will display command on total area covered, spray tank last filled, quantity of spray applied, etc.,. Control • • The spray application rate should be linked to forward speed for uniform deposition of active material on the crop. It can be achieved by two methods. In the first method the flow rate is changed (i.e increased or decreased) proportionately with forward speed. The lay out of this spray control system is shown in fig.
An input from the pressure sensor and radar speed meter an output to a servo control valve in the spray line is achieved. In the second method the dilution of the active material is changed according to the speed while maintaining constant nozzle flow. This system is designed to avoid wide range of flow rate through the nozzle.
4. Crop harvesting 36
4. Crop harvesting Grain: • Harvesters are fitted with sensors which monitor shaft speed, loads on elements of the system, bin fill, and so on. • Sensors provide indications of malfunction or the need for attention, through visual or audible warnings in the driver's cabin. • Grain combine harvesters also employ loss monitors which sense the amount of grain at crucial points in the system. • Acoustic sensors, which are 'tuned' to respond preferentially to the impact of the grain are placed behind the sieves and the straw walkers. • The acoustic sensors provide an electrical output, in the manner of a microphone, and the driver is given an analogue indication of the level of grain impacts at the monitoring points by a pulse-rate meter • The sieve and straw walker sensors provide a measure of grain loss rate, which can be compared with the limit of acceptable loss decided by the driver. • If losses exceed this limit the meter indication may be supplemented by a visual and audible warning that the driver should reduce the forward speed of the harvester. • In a loss monitoring instrument has an input for a forward speed signal, which provides loss/unit area information. • In Automatic forward speed control electronic tachometer is provided to monitor the engine speed. • Forward speed is reduced automatically when a preset level of acceptable grain loss is exceeded, or when the engine r/min indicates the presence of overload. • Another aspect of combine monitoring is measurement of the mass of grain harvested from a particular area. 37
It is possible by attaching a compact, high-throughput mass flow meter to the discharge spout of the combine.
By attaching a transducer, Each tank load, or part tank load, can be weighed as it is propelled by the combine's discharge auger through the spout into an adjacent trailer.
Potato harvester • An X –ray separator of potatoes from stones and clods was one of the successful applications of electronics to the field of harvesting. Principle • The transmission of low energy X-radiation can be used to discriminate between objects (crop material and clods or stones) of similar size but different atomic constitution ( crop material – H2, C & O2 of low atomic number. Stones & clods – Si – atomic number comparatively high.) Construction and working • The X – ray tube radiates horizontal beams through a set of windows in its collimator assembly. • • The beams irradiate a corresponding array of X – ray sensors. The harvested potatoes mixed with stones and clods is fed to an automatically leveled conveyor and reduced to a single layer by rotating roller above the conveyor. •
Moisture measurement Electronic meters for grain moisture determination evolved in two directions, namely measurement of electrical conductance and measurement of the dielectric (capacitative) properties of moist grain, with calibrated ranges up to about 30% m.c.w.b. (moisture content, wet basis). Resistance method: Resistance meters have a measurement cell with a pair of electrodes, commonly concentric rings in the base, which are bridged by the moist grain, under pressure. The electrical resistance (or conductance) of the bridging material is measured by an electronic meter circuit with a high input resistance, to cope with the drier material, which produces a cell resistance of about 100 MΩ. FET circuits are ideal for this application. This measurement depends more on the surface wetness or dryness of the grain than on its internal moisture so fine grinding of the grain is recommended for the most reliable results. Even so, for readings within ± 1% m.c. of oven reference methods the meter must be calibrated for each type of grain tested, and corrections must be made for ambient temperature, if this differs from the calibration temperature. Capacitance method: Meters of this type usually contain a capacitance bridge circuit, using a two-electrode measurement cell as one arm of the bridge. The measurement is performed at frequencies in the 1 to 10 MHz range in order to limit the conductance effects produced by ionisable salts in the grain. Although it is unnecessary to grind the grain for this measurement it is necessary to obtain standard bulk density of the sample in the cell, as far as possible. For this reason, the most accurate meters operate on a weighed sample, dumped into the cell in a standard manner, or weigh the sample after the cell has been completely filled and then make a correction for bulk density. The temperature of the grain must be measured, too, and a correction made for deviations from the calibration temperature. As with the resistance method, the calibration differs 40
between types of grain and indeed within samples of the same type of grain. All calibration curves or tables represent mean values for a particular grain, averaged over years. The need to refer to calibration tables and to make adjustments according to grain temperature and bulk density makes the signal processing in these meters an excellent application for the micro-processor, with attendant memory for storage of the tabulated data. Some newer commercial grain moisture meters incorporate a microprocessor for this purpose (Plate 9). Capacitance meters are also used for forage moisture determination, using large compression cells, but there are additional problems with forage crops. Unlike grain, the sample is often of mixed varieties and at various stages of maturity, therefore the calibration tables are averages of much more scattered data. However, there are other regions of the electromagnetic spectrum in which moisture measurements can be carried out with freedom from some of the interfering factors that occur in the MHz region. Microwave adsorption: In the GHz region measurements are little influenced by the presence of ionisable salts or by the distribution of water within the material. Here the Gunn diode finds another application, generating microwave power at around 10 GHz, to feed into a flat sensor containing a stripline or slotline. The signal reaching the far end of this line is detected by a diode whose output passes to the meter circuit. When forage, grain, or other moist material is packed against the sensor plate the attenuation of the output signal depends on the moisture content of the material, as well as its bulk density and, at these frequencies, the orientation of the individual pieces of the material. The orientation effect is especially pronounced in the case of strawy materials such as forage and the microwave stripline has to be made geometrically nonlinear to offset this effect. 41
The microwave sensor is most convenient for measurements on baled or otherwise compacted material, since this provides a sample of reasonably constant bulk density. The measurement region extends well into the bulk of the material and, given repeated sampling, accuracy can be ± 4% m.c.w.b. or better.
Infra-red reflectance moisture meter: • This method is widely used in industry, particularly for on-line measurement of the moisture content of powdered and granular material. • Its main limitation is that it measures moisture at or near the surface of the material and its accuracy is therefore dependent on the uniformity of moisture distribution in the material. Principle • The infra-red reflectance meter irradiates the sample with light spanning two adjacent wavelengths in the infra-red region. • At one of these water is strongly absorbing and at the other (the reference wavelength) it absorbs very little. • The light reflected at the two wavelengths is measured by photo detectors with suitable filters and the ratio of the reflectance is a measure of the moisture content of the material, largely irrespective of the reflective properties of the material itself. Construction 42
It has two low-power light-emitting diodes, each of which produces light output in a narrow waveband (about 50 nm) centred on a wavelength which can be fine-tuned by changing the current through it.
One operates at a centre wavelength of 1300 nm, which is employed for optical communications along glass fibres.
The other is specially manufactured to radiate on one of the adjacent water absorption bands.
These tiny lamps, with integral lenses, are switched electronically at a high rate to irradiate a small area in turn.
The reflected light is collected by a photocell, which 'sees' the light at the two wavelengths alternately and a following signal processing circuit extracts the required ratio.
AS the LEDs can be switched rapidly many sample readings can be taken per second and the circuit employs a microprocessor to display means and standard deviations after a selected number of readings, thereby providing well-defined values for the average moisture content of the material and for its variations.
It is a simple design, compact and low cost instrument
YIELD MONITORING Sensors In Yield Monitoring • • • Yield monitoring is one of the most popular precision agricultural applications. Yield monitoring sensors have enabled farmers to quantify inherent variability that exists in their fields. It has given a sense of realization to farmers what factors (such as weeds, insects, pests, diseases, soil compaction, etc.) can cause significant damage to their crop. Traditionally, farmers had one average number in terms of crop yield for a field. Average crop yield masks the variability in yield that exists across a field. Although farmers know their fields well and are able to estimate the performance of crop in different parts of the field, yield monitoring have transformed those “estimates” into real, quantified crop yield values.
More and more combine manufacturers are providing their customers with combines that are equipped with Global Positioning Systems (GPS), yield monitors and mapping technology. It is fast becoming a standard part of new combines. This article provides information on various sensors and their functions in a grain yield monitoring system. Although some of the sensors may vary from one manufacturer of yield monitoring system to another, most instantaneous yield monitoring system has the following sensors: (i) Grain flow sensor; (ii) Grain moisture sensor; and (iii) Ground speed sensor.
Displacement-type grain flow sensor. (i) Grain Flow Sensor: There are several grain flow sensor that are commercially available. However, the most common one used for grain crops is the “Impact Plate Sensor”. It is mounted at the top of the clean grain elevator i.e., in the path of the grain. The volume of the grain moving through the clean grain elevator is measured two ways: (a) by the amount of force the grain applies as it hits the impact plate, or (b) by the amount of displacement of the impact plate that occurs when grain hits the impact plate. Either way, the force on the impact plate or 44
displacement of the impact plate is in-directly related to the amount of grain flowing through the clean grain elevator. This measurement is recorded by the computer in the combine every second along with the GPS data, which is used to prepare a yield map.
A capacitance-type grain moisture sensor. (ii) Grain Moisture Sensor: Determining moisture content of the grain is important for various reasons including, time of harvest, estimating costs associated with drying of grain, storage and handling issues to minimize losses, and the farmer’s ability to make comparisons in crop performance. There are several grain moisture sensors that are commercially available. However, the most common one is based on measuring the di-electric properties of the grain. As the grain flows through the clean grain elevator, the grain moisture sensor that is located near the grain flow sensor measures the di-electric constant of the grain. Di-electric property is related to the moisture content in the grain. The higher the di-electric constant of grain, higher the moisture content. (iii) Ground Speed Sensor: There are various ways by which ground speed can be measured, such as radar sensors, GPS unit readings, shaft speed sensors, etc. Speed information is needed by the computer in the combine to estimate the area harvested in certain time period. Speed is converted into distance (multiplying speed by time). Distance covered is then multiplied by the swath width of the combine header to calculate the area harvested. The information from the grain flow sensor along with information from the speed sensor together provide instantaneous data to calculate grain yield harvested every second at a certain moisture content that is ascertained from the moisture sensor.
For example: An 8-row header at 30-inch row spacing recorded the following information for the previous second on a corn yield monitoring system. Grain flow sensor recorded: 30 lbs of grain flow/sec Grain moisture sensor recorded: 17.5% moisture content in grain Speed sensor recorded: 4 miles/hour speed of combine. Instantaneous yield for the previous second is calculated as follows. (i) Area harvested during the previous second: 8 row corn x 30 inch spacing = 240 inch or 20 ft header width. Combine speed for the previous second was 4 miles/hour i.e., 4 miles/hour x 5280 ft/mile x 1hr/3600 seconds = 5.9 ft/second (Speed of combine) Area = 20 ft x 5.9 ft = 118 ft2. Therefore the area harvested by an 8-row combine moving at a speed of 4 miles/hr during the previous second was 118 ft2.
An ultrasonic ground speed sensor.
ii) Grain yield in bushels/acre. 46
The combine harvested 30lbs of grain during the previous second from an 118 ft2 area. That translates into 30 lbs/118 ft2 x 1 bushel/56 lbs x 43,560 ft2/acre = 198 bushels/acre grain yield. This would be the wet grain yield at 17.5 % moisture content. (iii) Corrected grain yield at 15.5 % moisture content: (198 bushels – [198 x 0.175]) x 1/0.845 = 193 bushels/acre corn grain yield at 15.5 % moisture. The computer on the combine performs the above calculations instantaneously for all the readings recorded by the yield monitoring sensors and displays the information on the “Display Console” in the combine. Farmers view the yield information every second as they drive their combine across the field. Raj Khosla Assistant Professor Precision Agriculture Extension Specialist Colorado State University The sensor pictures used in this article were reproduced by permission of Deere & Company, John Deere Publishing, Moline, IL. All rights reserved.
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