As of the spring of 2016, we have reviewed every vegetable farm appropriate sensor vendor or consultant we could locate via the Internet, trade shows and journals.  Based on our testing and experience during our grant project we developed these key requirements and used them when reviewing a vendor's solution:

  • Wireless options--communication with sensors using WiFi, 900 MHz or 2.4 GHz; no wiring needed
  • Mesh networking--self-forming, self-healing, with routers available between sensors and gateways
  • Multiple base stations options--including computer WiFi, USB, direct Internet router connection (Ethernet) and cellular based
  • Key farm sensors available--focusing on air temperature, relative humidity with options for soil temperature/moisture, leaf wetness, rain fall
  • Hardened sensors--suitable for farm field use--weather protection, solar shielding for temperature sensors
  • Real-time data access--via the Internet including a dashboard summary page, individual sensor displays and report creation
  • Alerting capability--using emails or text messages to computers and mobile devices including tablets and smart phones when sensors exceed specified limits
  • Signal strength enhancement options--short and long range radio options, antenna extensions, directional antennas, line-of-sight mounting options
  • Good vendor web site, stability and technical support
  • Reasonable cost
  • Easy installation and setup with no programming needed with a minimum of mounting and deployment effort

one of the vendors surveyed met all of these criteria completely, but some are worth considering and are listed in the Vendors/Consultant section.