Saving Water Through Smart Ag

Social Responsibility /

AT&T is making an impact in global water usage by connecting U.S. farmers to the latest water management technology and tackling other farming related climate issues.

Whether it’s Earth Day or any day, people wonder how we can create more sustainable systems that minimize environmental impacts like water use and greenhouse gas emissions. At AT&T, we wonder the same things. And we’re connecting our technology with customers in ways that meet these goals – often in ways you might not expect. 

Smart agriculture is a good example. Every year U.S. farmers use 2.5 million acres of land to grow 6 million metric tons1 of rice, a crop that many of us take for granted.  Rice farmers help feed people around the world while contributing to economic growth here in the U.S.  At the same time, rice farming is water-intensive, currently using up to 40% of the world’s irrigated water every year.2 And rice farming generates a large amount of methane, a greenhouse gas that is 28 to 36x as potent as CO2 in contributing to climate change.3

We have been exploring how to our connectivity to enable solutions that challenge issues such as these. In one case, we teamed up with PrecisionKing to take a look at how our connectivity together with PrecisionKing’s technology could help save water and reduce greenhouse gas emissions involved in rice farming.

Here’s how it works. PrecisionKing’s RiceKing sensors are placed across rice fields, where they read water levels once an hour.  AT&T wireless connections enable the transmission of water-level data to a management system that automatically signals connected pumps to turn on and off as needed. This reduces water use and prevents flooding or excessive drying — all without requiring anyone to be in the field. Managing water levels also helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing pump energy usage and limiting the methane gas that is released from rotting materials created when too much water is used in the farming process.

This technology is getting results. In Arkansas, instead of gauging water by eye, Jim and Sam Whitaker use PrecisionKing technology and AT&T IoT connectivity. According to data Jim collects, connected RiceKing water-level sensors have reduced Whitaker Farms’ water usage by up to 60%, while the connected PumpKing controls have reduced pump energy usage by 20-30%.

Tackling the impacts of activities like agriculture is just one more step forward to a more sustainable world.

Our work on smart agriculture is just one way our company is helping to create a better, more sustainable world.

We’re working companywide to make our network, fleet and operations more efficient and we’ve set a goal to enable carbon savings 10x the footprint of our operations by the end of 2025. We’re also committing our resources and expertise in the Internet of Things (IoT) to help make cities cleaner, safer and stronger through smart cities. And, we’re helping our customers use IoT for Good, by connecting everything from trucks, to farm equipment, to city infrastructure and more.

More information on AT&T’s sustainability programs is available at about.att.com/csr.


1 www.worldriceproduction.com

2 http://www.iflscience.com/environment/rice-and-wheat-production-use-more-water-than-all-other-crops-put-together/

3 http://www.wri.org/blog/2014/12/more-rice-less-methane