• jasoncohen2

Liquid Prep - End-to-end IoT and cloud solution to help farmers optimize their water usage.

Open Source Collaboration Between IBM, CNM ( Central New Mexico Community College), and SmartCone Technologies


"Because farmers provide food for the world, natural disasters like drought and flood and fires affect not only crops, but the way that all humans get their food. With dramatic global climate fluctuations, helping farmers be better prepared for natural disasters is incredibly important.

Right now, only larger farms can afford the new farming technologies that include sensors and computer systems. Since most of the farms in the world are small farms (84% of farms are less than 2 hectares) and many are owned by semi-literate people, these farms aren’t able to access the new, expensive technology. " - Liquid Prep – IBM Developer

SmartCone mandate is to move the Liquid Prep project from concept to consumer product. With a focus on the utility and housing for the electronics and sensor. Once the product is complete, SmartCone envisions bringing the Liquid Prep to the United Nations, developing nation governments, and local municipalities to empower farmers around the world to manage water resources when farming.

Recently we visited the wonderful Nixon farm with IBM to do the first real farm soil test for Liquid Prep.

The Farm

The Nixon Farm is located just outside of Ottawa in North Gower, Ontario.

It was a wonderful family farm to visit with sprawling vistas of corn and soy only broken by the road and small irrigation ditches. Heather Nixon, one of the farm owners, was a cornucopia of information on cultivation. She was very interested in Liquid Prep project and enjoyed watching the testing done by the team.

Heather Nixon informing the team about corn cultivation.

The Team


Software Engineer/Lead Tester - Cornelius Nesen


Project Manager - Rob Lee & his two sons Max and Jake

CAD Modeler/Designer - Uni Lee

Product Manager - Jason Cohen

Nixon Farm:

Owner - Heather Nixon

The Test

The aim of the farm test was to collect real world soil moisture data, but more importantly test some ideas around how the sensor is deployed using a digger handle device in varying soil compaction.

Cornelius showing off the digger made from common metal racking rails

Another digger idea to test

Another digger suggested by Heather Dixon. A farm sign digger.

The system being deployed in a corn field

Heather helping find a good spot and educating us all on corn cultivation

This time of year the soil was fairly dry (August)

18.5% moisture , second reading further down was 25% moisture.

Then we moved to a soy field to test

Soybeans soil is sandy and dry as compared to corn

The soy field is more like farmers fields in developing nations. We had real challenge to get the sensor in the soil. The team will keep this in mind and design a digger attachment which will penetrate this type of compaction in soil. Uni had some ideas that she will implement adapting the racking rails with a spreader point and putting a cross bar on where a foot can stand on the digger/sensor and push down.

In the soybean soil - 15.71% Moisture at 2 inches deep(was as far as we could go)

Next Steps

The test was a great success. It showed the team how varied the soil conditions can be and how that effects the ability of the digger to get the sensor into the soil properly. The digger/handle needs to be designed to handle a range of soil conditions while still staying inexpensive and easy to manufacture. We plan on returning soon with new digger designs and to get more soil readings.

To get details on Liquid Prep. Go to this URL - https://developer.ibm.com/open/projects/liquid-prep/

Please feel free to leave a comment below.

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