Murata smart farming sensor saves water

  • May 15, 2022
  • William Payne

Japanese manufacturer Murata has launched a three-in-one soil sensor for data-driven sustainable agriculture. By monitoring electrical conductivity, water content and temperature of the soil simultaneously, the sensor makes it easer for farmers to maximise crop yield and quality while reducing water and fertiliser use.

The tip of the soil sensor contains a grid of 9 extra-sensitive electrodes providing consistent measurements of the soil’s electrical conductivity. Using proprietary algorithms, the sensor’s electrodes measure and compare the electrical conductivity of water held in between the soil particles, to the volume of the soil’s natural nutrients and added fertilisers. These electrical conductivity measurements are not affected by soil moisture content, making measurements unambiguous.

Knowing the water content of the soil helps 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,” said Yoshiyuki Oba, developer, Murata. “By using data for management and control, the soil sensors contribute to labour-saving in agricultural work and reduce waste of valuable resources such as water and fertiliser. 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.