|United States Of America||Issued Patent||10,631,475||04/28/2020||2015-208|
Prolonged drought in California and the Southwest has both severely reduced water allocation to farmers, and substantially increased water prices. As the drought continues, so does the pressure to increase water use efficiency and streamline water delivery practices in agriculture. The systems currently in use are insufficiently precise to satisfy the demands of high value crops such as almonds and grapes, which often require watering regimes tailored to individual plants.
UC Berkeley researchers have developed a low-cost system of mechanical valves and mobile robots that will address this issue. One or more valves can be installed per plant, and periodically adjusted by the robots based on sensor data. The system provides a fine-grained control of water flow to compensate for factors that vary across the planting region.