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University of Leeds, Hashemite University to develop project using drone to tackle drought

By JT - Jun 18,2022 - Last updated at Jun 18,2022

The project team is working to employ a small number of low-cost lightweight drones to harvest real-time wireless data (Photo courtesy of British embassy)

AMMAN — In observation of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, the UK’s Newton Khalidi-funded project aims to tackle drought in Jordan with drones. 

The project is a collaboration between University of Leeds and the Hashemite University, according to a British embassy statement. 

Jordan is facing an exceptional drought crisis. A solution is needed to combat the impact of recurrent drought episodes by balancing the uses of water for irrigation, drinking and industrial needs, the statement said.

Irrigation is one of the biggest challenges that Jordan is facing. Excessive and wasteful flooding of crops and scarcity of rainwater has led to several dams drying up in the Kingdom, read the statement. 

Poor agricultural technologies lead to low quality standards, often overlooking the unique requirements of different vegetables, soil and land, it added.

Researchers from the University of Leeds (UK) and the Hashemite University have teamed up to develop drones as a fully scalable yet responsive solution to efficient micro-irrigation of dry lands in Jordan. Micro-irrigation is a low-pressure, low-flow-rate type of irrigation that can reduce the overwatering of a landscape, the statement said.

Researchers utilise drones based on the Internet of Things (IoT) sensor networks. This technology enables micro-irrigation that can save valuable water resources and improve agricultural output by efficiently targeting irrigation to both crops and soil within targeted geographical areas.

The project team is working to employ a small number of low-cost lightweight drones to harvest real-time wireless data, (e.g., humidity), from localised energy-efficient soil sensors to monitor and control the micro-irrigation, an approach that will keep the costs lower than building an expensive and complicated wireless sensor network, (WSN), in a remote drought region, according to the statement.

The drones are controlled via autopilot. The lack of processing, memory, and power resources on board the device, allows the drones to monitor and process set parameters using a ground command and control node, powered via renewable energy.

Project researchers are collaborating with MARS Robotics to learn from their expertise of developing drone solutions in Jordan. This transfer of knowledge between industry and academia is enabling the development of a fully working framework that will assist in solving the water problems in the agriculture sector in Jordan, the statement said.

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