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SmartGun, hi-tec irrigation

After the closure of the production site of a French industrial group, where he was employed, Fabien Fournier decided to set up his own organisation, Cerres-Innovation, which focused on the design and marketing of industrial products. In partnership with another company, he developed the Smart Gun kit, a GPS system for hose reels/traveling guns, the first on the European market.

 

What is Smart Gun 2.0?

The SmartGun kit improves the performance of a traditional traveling gun by incorporating an on-board electronics system that allows the user to know the gun’s position in the irrigated zone at any time.

It takes the form of a control box containing a circuit board equipped with the GPS system. The farmer then uses Géoportial (French web-mapping service) to create a map of the zone to be irrigated and then transfers this to an electronic control box via two applications.

The electronic control box fitted with a GPS module recognises its longitude / latitude and will then communicate with the different actuators (spray head, lateral stops) so that the range of the sprinkler gun can be adjusted in accordance with the mapping of the field designed by the farmer. Thus, it will alter the radius of throw and no longer irrigate the zones that are to be ignored (roads, neighbouring fields …).

Apart from this feature, the kit is equipped with the following functions:

• The computer (calculator): where the farmer enters the geolocation of the fields to be irrigated.

•  The angle sensor: allowing the computer to be given the angular position of sprinkler gun’s axis.

• The anemometer: this will determine the wind speed at regular intervals so that the angle of the gun can be adjusted accordingly.

• The pressure switch / controller: To provide the computer with information about the water pressure.

• The guidance module: which communicates with the computer in order to restrict the irrigation of the sector laterally and also when stopping or starting.

• The LED illuminated computerised panel: allowing the status of the Smart Gun kit to be known at any time.

• The independent power supply: the battery is permanently recharged by a turbine connected to the water circuit.

 

The advantages of the Smart Gun kit

• The area outside the surface to be irrigated will not be wetted.

• Saving on time.

• No arduous work required.

• Savings on water.

• Takes the wind speed into consideration.

• Travel path management (stop/start).

• Self-diagnosis of each start-up.

• Electrical protection.

• Independent power supply.

Its technological complexity and a challenging environment from a technical point of view, meant that a period of more than 3 years was required for the development of the SmartGun kit, including various testing phases conducted either with the involvement of local farmers who had an understanding of the irrigation sector (Marmande / Azay le Ferron / Angers area), or with the technical support of certain agricultural machinery distributors (Angoulême / Vouharte area) or even with the input of certain water management organisations.

Mr. Fournier hopes to distribute between 20 and 30 SmartGun kits in 2021 in spite of the public heath situation that is placing restrictions on travel.

On 25th March, Mr. Fournier organised a demonstration event near Angers at the premises of a local dealer, Modema Agri, with some sixty farmers attending. Mr. Fournier wanted to be able to support and accompany his customers and develop the SmartGun kit according to the needs identified in the field.

 

The farmers’ expectations

The crops irrigated with this system are very varied: all of the crops can be irrigated with the Smart Gun… On the other hand, its use is dependent on an adequate water supply network and flow rate. According to Mr. Fournier: “In Hérault, where I have my place, we cannot irrigate with a Smart Gun because there is not enough water pressure; ours is 2 or 3 bar, which is insufficient”.

This product represents a response to the genuine needs of the farmers, not so much for its water-saving aspect as for the question of safety. In France, which has become more and more litigious, this product helps to keep the farmers out of trouble. It is quite common for a road or path to get wet and then lead to an accident, or to have a disgruntled neighbour because you have allowed water to get on to his or her property, or for the system to spray water onto a high-tension power cable…. A whole range of problems that the farmer should avoid at all costs.

The SmartGun kit can just as easily be fitted to spray guns that are already operating in the field as new guns. If the gun to be equipped with the product has already been in operation, then an analysis will have to be carried out to ensure that it is functioning properly. The company Cerres-innovation will be responsible for the assembly and calibration of the Smart-Gun kit.

The dealer’s task will be to provide the farmer with an irrigation gun equipped with SmartGun; to assemble it with an intermediate flange attached to the hose cart; set the final adjustment by means of an app; and then train and assist the farmer with the mapping of his or her field. Thus, the farmer is supplied with a system that is ready for immediate use.

In response to customer demand in some parts of the country, a version of the system is currently being developed and tested without the wind module and it will soon be offered to our distribution partners.