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Aiming for automated subsurface drainage

Together with the University of Oulu, Central Ostrobothnia Vocational College is developing and testing the automation of controlled drainage in a joint pilot project for smart water management called FieldControl. Controlled drainage is used to manage arable land drainage based on crop water requirements, the weather conditions and field moisture. When the field moisture conditions are optimal for growth, carbon sequestration in the soil is also more efficient.

At present, the regulation possibilities of drainage wells are not nearly fully utilized. Especially in rainy summers, it is a challenge that manual adjustment takes up working time and in the growing season the wells can only be reached by wading through vegetation. Approximately one control well is installed per 1.5 hectares.

The main objective of the FieldControl project is to test remote monitoring and control of subsurface drainage in authentic production conditions based on the results of the University of Oulu’s TIMAKO project. The pilots are being carried out on farms in Kannus and Nivala. Technical development of the systems is being done within ongoing research projects. The project is being financed from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Catch the Carbon programme.

Over the summer and autumn, the FieldControl project has tested its first 100% solar-powered prototype measuring soil moisture and controlled drainage water levels in a field in Kannus belonging to the Federation of Education in Central Ostrobothnia. The device transmits the measurement data wirelessly over the GSM network to a server and the measurement data can be checked on a smartphone, for instance.

You can follow the progress of the project on the project website www.kpedu.fi/peltosaato and on Kpedu’s social media channels.