Smart Farming With the Qualcomm QCM2290 SoC
September 06, 2023
You may not be a farmer, per se, but imagine that it’s your responsibility to make sure that an abundance of crops is yielded. Thankfully, you have technology on your side that enables a vigilant oversight of the fields using a handheld device – a smartphone. Devices with these capabilities have moved from being modern conveniences to necessary tools.
One vendor, Bayer, has developed such a tool from within its Crop Protection Innovation Lab. Bayer focuses on digital solutions that are aimed at modernizing farming techniques and enabling more sustainable farming. One great example is its MagicTrap product, which lets farmers monitor crops more efficiently and apply protective measures more precisely, while reducing environmental impact and cost. More specifically, the MagicTrap serves as a smart insect trap that uses the IoT as its communications backbone.
The MagicTrap, a tool used by farmers to keep pests away from valuable crops, is designed around a Qualcomm QCM2290 SoC.
In a collaborative endeavor with Atlantik Elektronik and Thundercomm Technology Co., the MagicTrap is designed around the Qualcomm® QCM2290 SoC, an amalgamation of cutting-edge automation that, in this case, is tailored to the assessment of fields dedicated to rapeseed cultivation. Atlantik Elektronik also provided local project-management and technical support, while the project drew on global IoT expertise of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
Rapeseed, a type of crop that sees heavy use in both culinary and industrial applications, is the key ingredient in a vegetable oil (oilseed rape or canola) that’s used globally. Yet, as is the case with many of the crops grown on typical farms, its growth can be negatively impacted by the relentless onslaught of pests, while still rooted in the soil. Among its adversaries, the pollen beetle, flea beetle, and weevil species emerge as formidable foes—each is capable of destroying a crop.
For stewards of the land, whose job it is to safeguard the fields, vigilance against pest incursions remains a top priority. While tolerance for modest infestations can be accepted, exploding pest populations necessitate prompt intervention.
Traditionally, yellow-hued pest traps, akin to the very crops they protect, have been strategically stationed amid the pests by diligent farmers. However, even the most efficient traps demand that the farmers manually inspect and maintain them—sometimes daily—which adds more work for the farmers.
By collaborating with Atlantik Elektronik to provide the 1NCE connectivity, the farmers were able to detect pests earlier than before while also coming up with a better trap, the MagicTrap, which resembles older, more conventional traps. Because it resembles the crops, the trap ensnares the pests, while its basin is filled with a combination of water and dishwashing detergent, which renders the pests immobile. An integrated grid keeps out larger insects, like bees.
Other differences/improvements as compared to the conventional trap include a reservoir that replenishes fresh water, which keeps the trap from drying out, and a camera that periodically captures high-resolution images of the inside of the trap and transmits them to the Cloud via a cellular connection. Thanks to the intelligence designed into the MagicTrap, it can dynamically choose the best medium to send the images.
The MagicTrap is controlled remotely via a standard smartphone.
Those images are evaluated by an AI model to determine the type and number of pests within the trap. Using a mobile app, the farmers can gather the information directly on their smart phones, again reducing or sometimes eliminating the need to manually check the trap.
The core of the MagicTrap is a system-on-module (SOM), the Thundercomm TurboX C2290, which is based on the Qualcomm QCM2290 SoC. The module offers high performance at a very low level of power, while also handling the image-capture and transmitting functions.
The benefits, besides the obvious time savings, are many. For example, charging for the MagicTrap is done via solar (after an initial AC charge to start the season). In addition, a special reservoir minimizes water evaporation in hot environments and lets MagicTrap dispense water for up to two weeks.
The Qualcomm QCM2290 SoC suits this application perfectly. But with a little imagination, it’s easy to see how it would work just as well in similar applications that require imaging, analytics, and decision making.
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