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Use Case

Intelligent Farming with ThingWorx Machine Learning


Z-Farms is a large farming cooperative specializing in almond production. The cooperative consists of
many acres of land at 5 farms throughout California.

Almonds are an extremely valuable crop that present


challenges for the cooperative; almond trees require heavy
irrigation to grow properly, yet also only grow in very specific
climates. The climate of central California is ideal for growing
almonds and California produces almost all almonds for
the US. In this area, however, water is a managed resource;
agriculture and Californians alike depend on expensive and
complicated infrastructure for access to water that must be
channeled from Northern regions of the state. Almonds have
specific optimal ranges for soil moisture. Deviations outside
acceptable ranges can result in crop loss, damage, poor yield,
and ultimately lost dollars for the cooperative.

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To avoid potentially costly dry soil, the growth of root fungus


in overly saturated soil, or violation of water regulations in the
area, all members of the co-op utilize sophisticated irrigation
systems and a network of sensors that monitor specific
variables at the farms including soil moisture, ambient
temperature, wind chill, wind speed, and solar radiation.
Data points stream into the Z-Farm databases by the minute.
Z-Farm has been using reporting dashboards to make sense
of the many data points monitored throughout the farms.
Farm operators simply use the data reported at the current
moment to decide when and where to turn on irrigation
systems and for how long.

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Use Case

Z-Farm faces challenges when it comes to irrigation:


Irrigation systems are extremely costly to run and water is a
limited resource.
The narrow optimal ranges of soil moisture for growth are
difficult to maintain.
Farm operators cannot simply turn on irrigation systems like
a faucet - they must plan in advance to ensure availability
and compliance with regulations.
Using only historical data requiring user-based data discovery
can lead to costly mistakes. The operators may over-irrigate
and water does not evaporate fast enough to keep the crops
in the ideal range for moisture. Or, soil may get too dry and
farm operators will suddenly need to turn on irrigation
systems, but enough water is unavailable at the time it is
needed. Ultimately, farm operators have a large amount of
data available, but it is difficult to predict the water needs of
the future using this data. Too many variables are in flux at
any given time. Farm operators have needed to rely on past
experience, intuition, and the data presented via the sensors
at the current time. This has led to human error in the past
that often can be costly, produce sub-optimal yields, or even
create crop loss. Z-Farm set out to take a more strategic,
proactive approach to leveraging data in order to reduce
costs and increase crop yields.

ThingWorx Machine Learning delivers proactive information regarding


land irrigation strategies to farm operators. The platform enables constant monitoring of predictive indicators such as soil moisture throughout their land. This information enables cost effective strategies for
greater crop yield while conforming to water regulations in California

ThingWorx Machine Learning is a learning technology, which


automates advanced and predictive analytics for theconnected
device ecosystems like the network of sensors used at Z-Farm.
The technology automatically learns from data, discovers
patterns, builds validated predictive models, and sends
information to virtually any type of application or technology
including the PTC ThingWorx IoT application platform.
In discussions with the ThingWorx Machine Learning product
and implementation teams, Z-Farm immediately saw how
the technology could greatly improve or solve some of
the irrigation strategy challenges faced by the company.
the teams helped to outline a strategic plan centered on
the automation and proactive intelligence delivered by
ThingWorx Machine Learning. ThingWorx Machine Learning
was going to be used to automate the predictive analytics
process for their irrigation strategy in an effort to maintain
crops within ideal soil moisture range, cut water costs by
using the least amount of water possible, and predict the
need for water to be available for irrigation.

ThingWorx Machine Learning simplifies and automates advanced


analytical processes to proactively manage irrigation strategies for a
network of farms.

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Z-Farm Plan:
Worked with internal experts and the product and
implementation teams to select relevant external data for
ThingWorx Machine Learning to consider when learning
particularly weather, drought, and solar as it has a great
impact on the strategic direction of irrigation strategies.
Selected ThingWorx Machine Learning to run on top of their
IoT databases automatically detecting patterns, anomalies,
and predicting future need for water.
Integrated proactive insights were designed to display in
the ThingWorx Intelligent IoT application so operators could
easily use ThingWorx Machine Learnings outputs to make
proactive and accurate decisions.

The implementation team successfully implemented


ThingWorx Machine Learning as an end-to-end, automated
solution for Z-Farm. Within the first day, ThingWorx Machine
Learning found that farm operators almost always overwatered crops on hot days. The heat actually had less to
do with soil moisture than did the actual solar radiation
penetrating the soil. Over-watering led to profit losses for
unnecessary use of expensive water and put plants at greater
risk of root fungus. ThingWorx Machine Learning flagged days
where solar radiation was predicted to be high and projected
the amount of water needed to irrigate crops in the coming
days based on current conditions. In a more complex example,
ThingWorx Machine Learning was able to detect hundreds
of discrete combinations of variables that could be used to
predict how much water would be needed when in each
specific area of each farm. With this data, Z-Farms operators
were better able to plan their irrigation strategies while
keeping compliance with water regulations.
ThingWorx Machine Learning was implemented to convert
overwhelming, but limited sensor data into clear, actionable
patterns that are constantly monitored to detect and improve
the overall water efficiency and crop quality. Z-Farm is able to
practice more sustainable farming in water-starved California,
lower costs significantly, and produce more high quality almonds.
For more information, visit: ThingWorx.com/analytics.

2015 PTC Inc. and/or its Subsidiary Companies. All Rights Reserved. Information described herein is furnished for informational use only, is subject to change without notice, and should not be taken as a guarantee, commitment, condition or offer by ThingWorx. ThingWorx, the ThingWorx logo, and all other ThingWorx product
names and logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of PTC Inc. and/or its subsidiaries in the United States and other countries. All other product or company
names are property of their respective owners.
J05897-ThingWorx Machine Learning Intelligent Farming Use Case-EN-0915

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