ABB irrigation control solution saves water and energy in Spain


Source: ABB

The ABB solution controls the irrigation system for 10,700 plots of land in a 210 square-kilometer belt of prime agricultural land in the Zujar Canal region of western Spain, where local farmers grow sweet corn, tomatoes, olives, rice and a variety of other fruits and vegetables.

Prior to ABB’s involvement, many farmers had to drive up to 40 kilometers to irrigate their land. They had to open the water valves by hand, and remain on site until it was time to close them. Because of the travel distances involved, many farmers chose to irrigate their crops during the day and lose water to evaporation, instead of irrigating at night when conditions are ideal.

The energy cost of pumping water during peak daytime power tariffs was a financial burden, while the awkwardness and inefficiency of traveling to their plots and remaining on site was deeply inconvenient. In addition, the farmers’ cooperative association, which represents all 8,500 plot owners, wanted to optimize water use by charging each member for the real cost of the volume consumed.

Another solution was clearly required, and the cooperative asked ABB to provide a complete, single-source irrigation control system.

The solution is based on ABB’s Neptuno 4H wireless irrigation system which uses state-of-the-art ABB remote terminal units and the GPRS telecommunications network to provide a highly flexible and low-cost remote-controlled solution for small to large-scale irrigation projects.

ABB control solution for major Spanish irrigation project

Some 7,900 RTUs control the 10,700 sets of water valves and counters. Powered by small solar panels, they communicate wirelessly with a central ABB SCADA control center using a private and secure wide area network (WAN) system built on the GPRS network.

This enables each of the 8,500 users to program the solution so that each crop receives the optimal amount of water at the correct time of day and when tariffs are most economical. Parameters can be securely accessed and modified by remote using a mobile phone or Internet web browser.

As a result, the farmers no longer have to travel to their land each day, and they receive alarms and maintenance messages on their mobile phones and computers.

After only one irrigation season the solution has produced some remarkable results.

Cultivating productivity
Electrical energy costs have been cut by 30 percent by pumping water when energy tariffs are lower, output has risen by 25 percent due to highly optimized and effective irrigation, and the association’s water consumption has been drastically cut by 47 cubic hectometers a year, which according to the United Nations is enough to meet the minimum water needs of 2.3 million people over a whole year.

Users can open and close the valves remotely, read pressure and water counters, monitor water consumption and water flow, execute up to four irrigation programs a day based on time intervals and/or water volume supplied, and receive alarms and maintenance messages

The system can be expanded with features such as video surveillance, reservoir and gate monitoring, water quality control, weather information and irrigation recommendations with automatic adjustments according to area and crop, mobile phone payments, etc.

ABB is a world-leading supplier of power and automation solutions for the entire water cycle - for pumping stations, water transportation and distribution networks, water and wastewater treatment plants, and desalination plants.

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