The single most important innovation in irrigation in the past 2,000 years.
We have invented what is probably the most disruptive paradigm shift in agricultural irrigation since the second Imperial Dynasty of China.
Drip Irrigation, which is widely accepted as the most effective form of irrigation we have today, was actually invented by the Chinese during the Han Dynasty over 2,100 years ago as documented in the Fan Shengzhi shu.
It disappeared from this historical record and the idea resurfaced around 1860 in Germany.
Since then, it has had mixed success with farmers, and only a few major innovations by countries like Australia, Israel and the United States up until the 1960s, and hardly any innovation ever since. Even so, it is generally considered as the best irrigation method available to farmers today. That is, when it works.
Adaptive Precision Irrigation™ (or APi™ for short) takes irrigation to the next level, going way beyond the capabilities, complexities and limitations of Drip Irrigation into a completely new paradigm in precision irrigation.
APi™ ("ay-pie") could very well be the cornerstone to:
Evolve past the Neolithic™
Adaptive Precision Irrigation™, is the combination of a patented cost effective robotic liquid diverter and an open and highly scalable architecture. This combination provides a level of complete environmental analysis and control that was previously only partially available in very costly laboratory equipment. Our inventions and trade secrets are able to deliver this technology at a very low cost to any size grower: from a kitchen cabinet to a large scale open-field farm, and anything in between.
Our invention allows both distribution of liquid feeds as well as selecting and mixing of individual nutrients from different sources. Our robotic diverter has other applications, for example it serves as the key component a real-time soil analysis robot (future AgroMe product), and even applications outside of the agricultural space such a general robotics.
We believe Adaptive Precision Irrigation™ will take Controller Environment Agriculture (CEA) to the next level, and will open completely new market opportunities in industrial, urban and even home growing.
Never before has there been a system that is able to deliver specific nutrients to individual plants, and control every single environmental aspect in a scalable, secure and cost-effective way.
Apart from breakthrough innovation in sensory, control and precision irrigation, AgroMe has built the world's first secure, open and scalable architecture that is targeted specifically to CEA applications.
The ANC Open Agronomy Architecture™ combines proven Distributed Control System (DCS) architectural design principles, together with modern Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, providing our customers with the best of both worlds, without sacrificing security, reliability or performance.
Systems developed with the ANC™ can be as small as a single device, and grow to thousands, or hundreds of thousands of plants.
Introduction to the
ANC Open Agronomy Architecture™
The Magic of the ANC Network Hub
The main distinction of the AgroMe ANC™ and other architectures is the clean separation of the Control System (and Control Network) from the WiFi Network and IoT sides. This separation is achieved by the AgroMe Hubs and is meant to keep the Control System secure and reliable.
The AgroMe Hubs are special devices that contain two separate processors, much like two separate computers in one. The Control Side is a an extremely reliable Microcontroller which is programmed using well proven Instrumentation and Control Standards much the same way that PLCs (Programmable Logic Controllers) are programmed. This guarantees that the control software will run continuously and securely on a single task, without the complexities of an Operating System, and without suffering from memory fragmentation and other problems associated with typical microprocessor+OS stacks and higher level programming languages.
For example, if the WiFi side stops responding, reboots or is compromised (e.g. hacked) in any way, the Control Side will keep operating without issue. This is because all configuration to run the Control System is stored in each Microcontroller's EEPROM so there in no need for the two networks to be linked in any way (at the wireless level), except through very specific connections at the hardware level between the two processors (on the actual board). Moreover, and for added security, AgroMe provides ample documentation and free support to encourage our customers to separate the Hub's WiFi Network from the customer's IT Network and configure special firewalls rules between them, to prevent direct access from Internet to the ANC.
The Hub (which in itself an Accessory Module) is considered a "Master" node in the Control Network, although in small applications it could very well be the only device present. Every Accessory Module has a Secure Radio Module with a frequency well below the 1Ghz range (which is totally safe for humans, animals and of course, your plants). Typical AgroMe indoor systems employ the RFM69 radios and outdoor applications may employ LoRa (longer range) modules or a combination of the two.
The Control System and Network
As mentioned above, the ANC™ Control Network is completely separated from any other networks, especially those from the Internet. In our systems IoT and Cloud Services are optional features, not necessary ones.
By itself, the Control System and Network operates much like any traditional Distributed Control System or DCS. In fact, the communications protocol in the Control Network is fundamentally Modbus with some minor extensions which we call ANC Modbus. Most of the system design is based on Master-Slave, the Hubs being masters and the accessory modules being slaves. But it's also peer-to-peer in the sense that any component can talk to any other component so long as they are in the same network and are paired with the same hub. Multiple hubs can share the same network (as in the case of our HydroGrid64™ product) but since radio communications is encrypted, only components paired to a single hub can communicate with each other (even if on the same radio network).
In ANC Modbus there are a total of 250 individual networks reserved for applications and each network can host up to 247 components (Modbus Standard). A single component can provide sensors and actuators for many plants, so for example in the specific configuration of the HydroGrid64™ product it can be extended to a maximum of 38,000 components for a total of 304,000 plants per site, although the architecture itself supports much more: a total of 61,750 individual components.
Control Network Security
Control Radio Communications is encrypted and secure. Each device has a factory Pairing Key which is derived from the serial number and a salt value and algorithm parameters that are changed periodically and only known by AgroMe. When a new device is being paired into a Control Network, the hub's WiFi processor communicates with AgroMe servers and obtains the derivation function parameters and is able to derive the device Pairing Key which is sent to the Control Network's Master Microcontroller. The Master Node is then able to establish a one-time encrypted link with the new device and exchange the Network Encryption Key which is randomly generated inside the Hub (upon first power-up or after a hard reset) and is unknown to any other party outside that particular Control Network, even to AgroMe. After pairing is complete, both devices establish a permanent encryption link using the Network Encryption Key.
Open for Creativity
and no Vendor Lock-In
The AgroMe ANC™ is completely open and we also use Open Hardware as the basic building blocks of our boxed products. This means that customers are free to integrate ANC-based products to their existing technologies or even integrate Open Source / Open Hardware solutions of their own into our products, or even create products of their own. For example, instead of buying a turn-key products such as the HydroGrid64™ customers could simply purchase the components from us, third parties and build their own solutions. Customers and partners may also apply to obtain access to engineering documents and source code of our own products.
Below is an example of a simple 10 plant system that a anyone could build simply by putting together individual AgroMe and third-party components and writing the software themselves: