Wisconsin Cranberry Farm Protects Crops With IoT System

The Monnit wireless temperature and humidity sensor solution enables Hilltop Cranberry to receive alerts if temperatures dip too low, thereby ensuring the farm takes action to protect its crops from frost damage.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 11, 2017

Hilltop Cranberry Co. is using an Internet of Things-based sensor system to track the conditions around its temperature-sensitive crops. The solution, provided by Monnit Corp., consists of temperature and humidity sensors that transmit measurements wirelessly to a receiver. The Monnit cloud-based solution can then issue alerts to the company at any time of the day or night when conditions are such that the plants and their berries are at risk. The system, installed this spring, not only prevents the potential loss of an entire crop if the temperature dips too low, but also provides owner Travis Tritz with a better night's sleep, since he doesn't need to spend cool nights watching the temperatures.

Hilltop Cranberry has a 19-acre marsh in Vesper, Wis., that includes five cranberry beds that are, at times, submersed in water. The berries are especially vulnerable to freezing at the time that the buds are opening. Frost, at that time, can result in no berry growth the following season. If temperatures dip below freezing during the budding point in the plant's growth, cranberry growers typically turn on sprinklers to spray the plants and thereby prevent frost damage.

For cranberry farmers, this can often lead to sleepless nights as they watch weather conditions. Tritz has addressed the problem via a temperature alarming system at his home that wakes him up if the temperature drops below a specific temperature, indicating that he needs to check the plants and possibly turn on the irrigation system.

The temperature at his home can be as much as 16 degrees above the temperature at the fields, Tritz notes, so this is not a foolproof solution. The temperature at his home has been as much as 16 degrees above that of the cranberry fields. Therefore, when the temperature has reache 45 to 48 degrees at his home, he has often been forced to go out and spend the night watching the temperatures on the manual thermometers. To create a more precise solution, he began seeking a wireless solution and opted for Monnit's Remote Monitoring System, based on the solution's price and the flexibility of the company's representatives.

Monnit's system consists of IoT-based sensors for the agriculture market that can track temperature, humidity, light and carbon monoxide levels around plants, says Brad Walters, Monnit's CEO and founder. The sensors capture measurements and transmit the data to the receiver via a 900 MHz signal. The receiver acts as a gateway and forwards that information to Monnit's software via a cellular connection. The software interprets the data and can prompt a hierarchy of messages until someone responds to them.

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