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      1.1 Background to the study

        Through  the  ages  agriculture  production  systems  have  benefited  from  the

        incorporation of technological advances primarily developed for other industries.

      The  industrial  age  brought  mechanization  and  synthesized  fertilizers,  the

        technological age offered genetic engineering and now the information age brings

      the potential for Precision Agriculture (Rasher, 2001).

      Precision agriculture (PA) , satellite farming or Site Specific Crop Management

        (SSCM) can  be  defined  as  a  set  of  technologies  that  have  helped  propel

        agriculture  into  the  computerized  information-based  world,  and  is  designed  to

      help  farmers  get  greater  control  over  the  management  of  farm  operations

        (Gandonou,  2005).  One  of  the  key  technologies  of  precision  agriculture  is  the

      control and accurate measurement of the soil moisture. For decades, the subject

      of  soil  moisture  has  been  of  great  interest  in  agricultural  system.  Prior  to

        advancement in  agriculture, farmer has picked up and felt a handful of soil to

      determine the best time to plow his fields and equally to manually determine the

        amount of moisture content of the soil. Soil moisture measurement ranges from

      the  method  of  feeling  the  soil  to  the  use  of  complicated  electronic  equipment

      using radioactive substances. Such method includes the use of soil sensor. Since

      the inception of precision agriculture, soil sensors have been used to measure the

      soil  moisture  level.    The  soil  moisture  sensors  measure  the  volumetric  water

        content  of  the  soil  by  using  electrical  resistance,  dielectric  constant,  etc. The

      farmer  uses  the  information  obtained  from  the  soil  moisture  sensor  to  make

        adequate  and  accurate  decisions  on  how  and  when  to  irrigate  or  plough  his


       Today,  technological  progress  in  communication,  along  with  the  information

        revolution has reduced the amount of work done by the farmer and has since then

        increased yield. Precision agricultural technologies, such as Global Positioning

        Systems  (GPS), Geographic  Information  Systems (GIS), remote sensing,  yield

        monitors, and guidance systems for variable rate application, made it possible to

        manage within-field variation on large scales. The GIS is a software application

      that  is  designed  to  provide  the  tools  to  manipulate  and  display  spatial  data

        (Blackmore, 1993). These technologies allow detection and/or characterization

      of  an  object,  series  of  objects,  or  the  landscape  without  having  the  sensor  in

      physical contact (Viacheslav et al., 2003). General Packet Radio System (GPRS)

      is a third-generation step toward internet access. GPRS is also known as Global

        System Mobile Communication Internet Protocol (GSM-IP). GSM-IP keeps the

      users of this system online, allows to make voice calls, and access internet on-

        the-go.  Even  Time  Division  Multiple  Access  (TDMA)  users  benefit  from  this

      system  as  it  provides  packet  radio  access.  GPRS  also  permits  the  network

      operators  to  execute  an  Internet  Protocol  (IP)  based  core  architecture  for

      integrated voice and data applications that will continue to be used and expanded

      for  3G  services.  GPRS  supersedes  the  wired  connections,  as  this  system  has

        simplified access to the packet data networks like the internet. The packet radio

        principle is employed by GPRS to transport user data packets in a structure way

      between GSM mobile stations and external packet data networks. These packets

      can be directly routed to the packet switched networks from the GPRS mobile

      stations. In the current versions of GPRS, networks based on the Internet Protocol

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