Covell Group Deploys ZyXEL Solution to Monitor Smart Irrigation System

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“The only time in the last six years the ZyXEL product stopped working was when it was unplugged due to power outage at the farm,” “Given the dust, occasional high temperatures, and proximity to the sea of these fields, this unit has proven virtually indestructible!”

Daniel Covell
Founder and President, The Covell Group.

Background

At the time of this writing, California is experiencing its worst drought since 1977. The Governor of the state declared a drought State of Emergency in January 2014 and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for water shortages.

With water availability at its worst in decades, advanced monitoring and smart irrigation technology came to the rescue of one farmland developer: Mellano and Company of the world famous flower fields at Carlsbad Ranch, thanks to the foresight and ingenuity of solution provider and ZyXEL solution partner Covell Group.

The Covell Group, based in El Cajon, California, provides IT outsourcing services to SMBs as large as 3,000 employees. For over 12 years, they have been serving customers throughout the Southwestern United States.

Challenges

In 2008, El Cajon-based Daniel Covell, founding president of the Covell Group, was tasked by Mellano and Company, which farms the flower fields, to enable them to remotely monitor the water level, alkalinity, and other vital information on the 54-acre field. This would optimally control irrigation of the farmland, saving precious water resources and minimize the cost of watering while maintaining a high-yield crop.

Soil monitoring sensors were run throughout the farm. The controller for the sensors and communication equipment was housed in a small metallic cabinet at the edge of the farm.

Solutions and Benefits

Covell installed ZyXEL’s ZyWALL 2WG Firewall/VPN gateway in this cabinet that securely feeds all the sensor data to Mellano’s data center. In addition to wired Internet access, the ZyWALL 2WG also offers 3G/4G Internet connection via a mobile data card providing Internet access in hard to wire areas the like middle of the farm. With this set-up, Mellano had access to all the critical soil data by remotely logging in to the ZyWALL 2WG any time from virtually anywhere.

The ZyXEL ZyWALL 2WG VPN-Firewall gateway that the Covell Group installed for the Mellano farm application in 2008 is still functional today connecting the smart irrigation sensors to the Mellano data center.

ZyXEL has since upgraded the ZyWALL 2WG with two new products – the USG20 and USG20W. These newer devices offer faster performance and more features but the same reliability of the ZyWALL 2WG.

Mellano and Company spends upward of a million dollars on farm irrigation alone. And the soil monitoring system, put in place since 2008 has resulted in over 10% water savings for Mellano and Company. The savings surpassed the investment in the monitoring equipment while simultaneously conserving water.

In addition to conserving water, a controlled irrigation system improves yields and maintains the quality of soil. In all, the smart irrigation system installed by the Covell Group continues to be a profitable investment for Mellano and Company and also the water-starved Southern California community.

 

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