Irrigation on demand
Imagine if your crops could “tell” how much water they needed.
Tokyo-based venture SenSprout has been conducting experiments in India with a system that could improve farming, reduce costs and save precious water resources.
SenSprout has developed an agricultural water-monitoring system that takes guesswork out of farming.
In joint experiments with the Indian Institutes of Technology, a 50cm-long tube with three patches of electrodes made of resin film, covered by a thin layer of copper, is inserted into the ground. The tubes sense the electrostatic capacity of the soil and determine the amount of water contained in the ground.
Farmers can remotely check the data on their computers or smartphones to decide if their plants need more water.
The sensor system can help farmers avoid wasting water, a scarce and often expensive resource in dry areas. And it can help farmers in Japan perfect their produce through consistently correct levels of water.
SenSprout’s sensor uses low-cost materials. The production costs for one unit is less than $926 (R13 423).
The project was funded with $169 931, which includes a monetary award of $150 000 in a venture startup competition, and donations through crowdfunding.
The sensor was developed by a research team led by Yoshihiro Kawahara, an associate professor of information and communication engineering at the University of Tokyo. He is a technical adviser to SenSprout.
Shimbun – Mari Fujisaki, Asahi
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