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IoT & Thick-Film Technology for Underground Sensors in Agriculture

March 18, 2016 By: Marios Sophocleous, IP Research Ltd

Sensors Insights by Marios Sophocleous

Soil is the world's most vital component for food and fiber production, therefore, protection of such a key natural resource is of severe importance. The vast majority of farmers are greatly aware of the impact of sustainable land-use. As a result, an increasing demand for more information and better tools for monitoring the sustainability of their agricultural management arises.

Precision agriculture (PA) is an agricultural management concept based on monitoring and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops. The desire to respond to production variability in both space and time using new emerging technologies on a fine-scale has become the goal of PA. Agricultural industry is in need of the capability to gather more comprehensive data on such variability and being able to accurately and timely respond to those changes. There are two main barriers to be overcome for its wider implementation:

  1. PA is 'information-intense'. Mapping of several soils, crops and environmental influences within a field generates 'data overload' for the farmer. Overcoming this issue requires the development of data integration tools, expert systems and decision support systems.
  2. There are several techniques for data acquisition for soil, crop and environmental factors but those methods are costly and labor intensive since most of them require soil sampling and laboratory analysis. Automatic sensor systems are needed for precision agriculture to be widely practiced.

Conventional soil testing techniques involve a sequence of steps (Benton Jones, 2001) from field sampling to laboratory analysis (wet chemistry) and ultimately the interpretation of those results as a decision providing tool. These steps are highly interdependent and each of them can affect the result obtained at another. Consequently, conclusions drawn for one aspect must necessarily take into consideration of all others.

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About the Author: Marios Sophocleous

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