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


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:

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Forest Management Yields Higher Productivity through Biodiversity
14.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Farming with forests
23.09.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES)

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: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Prototype device for measuring graphene-based electromagnetic radiation created

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Gamma ray camera offers new view on ultra-high energy electrons in plasma

28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

When fat cells change their colour

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>