Renier van der Lee is the father of three kids, a technology enthusiast, and a self-proclaimed “gentleman farmer,” which sounds incredibly official on its own. He is also a Tindie seller who created the award-winning Vinduino sensor, which has seen massive growth and sales both on Tindie and beyond since its inception.
Join us as we explore the history and proliferation of this unique and endlessly useful device that has a huge impact on water conservation and savings for growers.
What is Vinduino, and How Does it Work?
Vinduino is a water-saving irrigation project for vineyards, but it has applications for all types of growers who live in drought-ridden countries. Vinduino utilizes a gypsum soil moisture sensor to accurately measure the moisture present around the roots of a plant.
It was originally designed for use in vineyards, where it can be connected to several long-range RF LoRA modules and charged by solar power. All of this is connected to the irrigation system. When the sensor detects a drop in moisture, the sprinklers turn on, and not a moment before.
The concept won the Best Product award during the 2015 Hackaday Prize, which aims to find projects that have potential as a product people would want. Vinduino was also selected for residency in the SupplyFrame Design lab.
Renier first tested his VInduino installation on his own vineyard. Prior to the creation of Vinduino, he was spending over $4,300 each year on a vineyard management company to ensure his vines were watered.
Once he switched over to Vinduino, he didn’t need their assistance anymore. Over the course of a single year, he managed to save 430,000 gallons of water, which equates to $1,925 in cost savings. The entire installation costs $635. It offers a great return on the investment almost immediately and represents a viable solution for the ongoing water shortages in California and across the world.
What Does The Future Hold?
Since winning the Hackaday prize, Reinier has been moving forward with improvements and enhancements to the Vinduino project. In June of 2015, the project went open source. Just two years later, a new Vinduino LLC office location opened in Temecula, CA.
The original design was powered by WiFi, but it was soon discovered that the range of this technology wasn’t sufficient for entire vinyards. Semtech partnered with Vinduino to bring their unique wireless solution to vineyards around the world. Their LoRA wireless radio technology empowers Vinduino to measure data in real-time and deliver it directly to vine growers.
Here’s how this combination of technology works:
- Each zone houses a remote sensor station platform and individual sensors of various depths. The resistive solid-state sensors respond to the moisture range for agriculture (0 to 70 kPa) at defined intervals. The LoRa transceiver sends a message packet to any gateway that’s in range.
- The gateway, which is designed for public or private LoRaWAN networks, can support up to 1,000 sensors in a six-mile radius. The gateway then connects to a router or modem for internet access.
- The packet is forwarded to the vineyard management application housed in a cloud server or dedicated server platform.
- The smart irrigation software presents the data on a web interface or mobile app. It can be customized to open or close irrigation valves based on readings.
Vinduino has expanded the technology to included management systems for other crops, such as citrus orchards. As the company and the technology continues to grow, more and more farmers are embracing it for water conservation, growth optimization, and better irrigation management overall.