3-in-1 soil sensors help maximize crop yield and quality in smart agriculture
Murata Manufacturing Co Ltd has introduced a highly accurate three-in-one soil sensor for data-driven sustainable agriculture.
By simultaneously monitoring the electrical conductivity (EC), water content and temperature of the soil, the sensor enables farmers to maximize the yield and quality of crops while minimizing resources such as water and fertilizers.
The tip of the soil sensor contains a grid of nine extra-sensitive electrodes that provide consistent measurements of the soil’s EC. Using unique algorithms, these electrodes help measure and compare the EC of pore water, which is the water in between the soil particles, to the volume of the soil’s natural nutrients and added fertilizers. These EC measurements are not affected by soil moisture content, thereby eliminating uncertainty in the soil and contributing to improving crop quality and yield by optimizing fertilizers.
Knowing the water content of the soil also enables the grower to irrigate the soil in an accurate and timely manner, saving water. As well as monitoring soil conditions, the robust and reliable sensor can monitor the water quality of rivers and lakes. “We have conducted demonstration tests using our soil sensors on a variety of fields and crops to verify their effectiveness,” says Yoshiyuki Oba, developer, Murata. “By using data for management and control, the soil sensors contribute to labor-saving in agricultural work and reduce waste of valuable resources such as water and fertilizer.
They also contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as environmental problems like salt damage and the accompanying food problems caused by global climate change.”
Protected to IP68 equivalent for dust and water, including rust proofing for use in harsh environments, these high-performing and energy-efficient soil sensors can run on three AA batteries for over half a year if the measurement interval is once every 30 minutes. The multi-interface sensors also support UART, RS232E, RS485, SDI-12, and RS485 MODBUS, making them compatible with existing crop management systems.