Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists Develop Sensitive Soil Moisture Technology Sensor to Save Farmers £10 per Hectare and Benefit the Environment

09.12.2003


Scientists have developed a new "intelligent" reliable soil moisture sensor that is set to ensure horticulturists accurately irrigate staple crops such as potatoes and fruit, and enhance environmentally friendly farming practices. A collaboration between the University of Warwick and Herefordshire based McBurney Scientific led to the development of the new product that harnesses enhanced sensor technology for measuring soil moisture with wireless communication and the processing power and convenience of the hand-held computer.



Soil moisture conditions play a vital role in ensuring good crop quality and quantity, and the new device is set to simplify the task of measuring and reduce the costs of irrigation scheduling by more than £10 per hectare each year, compared with current soil measurement equipment. The battery-powered probe is a significant improvement on existing devices, which use complex technology and are often too expensive for use in low-margin crops.

Heat pulse technology embedded in a porous ceramic tip on the probe measures soil moisture content. Readings are then sent via radio signals to a hand-held computer, which can interpret the results to show how much water is needed to optimise growing conditions, depending on factors such as soil type. It automatically downloads the data within a 100 metres range of the sensor.
Consumers demand high quality fruit and vegetables as well as environmentally sensitive methods of crop production, and the amount and timing of irrigation are crucial factors in ensuring a good crop.



In conjunction with the University of Warwick’s Innovation Direct, a free consultancy service for West Midlands based SMEs, the Soil Moisture Sensor recently won the Lord Stafford Award for Innovation, which is awarded to the business with the greatest potential for a product developed in association with a West Midlands University.

The Scientific Soil Moisture Sensor provides a record for suppliers on the use of environmentally friendly growing practices. Too little water causes plant water stress which damages crop yields, but the environment needs to be protected from water overuse, which can compete with the needs of wildlife habitats or cause agricultural chemicals to leach from soils to the environment.

Dr Terry McBurney, owner of McBurney Scientific, said: "The new moisture sensor provides essential accurate information on the level of moisture in the soil, soil temperature and soil tension. This enables farmers to grow crops more intelligently and mitigate the effects of under or over watering."

"Crops such as potatoes, and other horticultural produce, are particularly vulnerable during times of drought. To achieve good quality it’s important to get the water right at critical stages, particularly in June when the tubers are initiating. If conditions get too dry you end up with potato "scab" and farmers can lose premium markets."

A patented prototype is undergoing thorough testing processes to ensure that it will give continuous, maintenance-free performance and the new Soil Moisture Sensor will be available in mid 2004.

Jenny Murray | alfa
Further information:
http://www.warwick.ac.uk

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product
02.12.2016 | Purdue University

nachricht New findings about the deformed wing virus, a major factor in honey bee colony mortality
11.11.2016 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>