Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Computer Engineering (MSCmpE)

Degree Level



Computer Science & Computer Engineering


Christophe Bobda

Committee Member

Christopher G. Henry

Second Committee Member

David Andrews

Third Committee Member

Dale R. Thompson


AES Encryption, ARM Microcontroller, Arduino, FreeRTOS, GPRS - Embedded System, Internet of Things, Smart Irrigation


Surge Irrigation is a type of furrow irrigation and one of many efficient irrigation techniques. It is one of the economical techniques and requires minimum labor for monitoring it. In surge irrigation, water is applied intermittently to a field to achieve uniform distribution of water along the furrows, which is important while irrigating, as it ensures that there is enough water near the root zone of the crop. The uneven distribution can cause a loss in crop productivity.

Surge irrigation uses a surge valve, which is an electro-mechanical device that irrigates a field. The commercial surge valves available on the market are made to control only the time for the irrigation. However, their functionality is limited and requires human intervention to control and monitor the irrigation process. Therefore, monitoring the irrigation with these controllers is a big challenge. The lack of monitoring may result reduced irrigation efficiency.

The purpose of this thesis is to design and develop an embedded system for surge irrigation that resolves the drawback associated with the commercial surge valves. In this thesis, a “Surge Controller” is designed, implemented, and tested on the farm. The surge controller is a microcontroller-based embedded system, which runs the real-time operating system FreeRTOS on a single core ARM Cortex M3 microcontroller for multitasking. The important feature, which makes the surge controller “Smart”, is the Internet of Things (IoT) that enables the controller to send irrigation data over the Internet to a remote station.

During the Spring and Summer, 2017, the surge controller was developed and tested in the field at Rice Research and Extension Center of the University of Arkansas. Five irrigation events were run in a 20 acres soybean field. The controller was tested for the durability of the components in the environment and field conditions, performance and overall feasibility of the device to achieve successful results from an irrigation event. After the successful testing, the IoT feature was added in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 and tested for its functionality by running a few irrigation events in the Laboratory. The surge controller worked as expected continuously without interruption.