Moisture sensors and their application in precision farming

20 October 2021

Precision agriculture is a management strategy that aims to improve the efficiency of resource use in agricultural production through data collection and analysis processes. In this way, factors such as productivity, profitability and even quality can be increased while ensuring a sustainable and balanced chain.

In order to obtain this data, the use of technology is necessary. There are multitude of options for this, from geographical information systems, to the use of satellite images that provide information to accurately assess factors such as sowing and density, the amount of fertilizer to be used for a crop, and even to predict future crop yields. These are tools that enable farmers to facilitate decision-making and improve both crop yields and efficiency.

Sensors have been successfully incorporated in agriculture for years. There are many typeswhich, when applied to the crop, are of great help to production. However, moisture sensors in particular, which are key to optimize irrigation and saving water, have gained many followers around the world. They are popular, because, when correctly installed, they provide the farmer with reliable information on almost everything that is happening in a crop.

Moisture sensors therefore offer very interesting parameters. Nowadays, they are used in all types of crops: fruit trees, almond trees, olive trees, grapes… But also, in a wide variety of soils and with different irrigation systems, and they make it possible to carry out precision agriculture, an activity with great advantages:

Advantages of using moisture sensors in precision agriculture

The application of moisture sensors in precision farming has many advantages:

– Observing the development and growth of crops in real time.

– Alerting the farmer of sudden changes in soil moisture and thus, the needs of the crop.

– 24/7 data consultation thanks to mobile applications.

– Identify possible diseases or pests in the crop, including weeds.

Types of moisture sensors

There are different types of soil moisture sensors for agriculture, such as granular matrix sensors, neutron probes or soil penetrating radars. However, the most common are volumetric soil water content and matrix tension sensors, which have been on the market for years and are able to provide data on how much it costs the root to obtain water from the soil. The former has been on the market for fewer years, but are advancing very rapidly in crops around the world because of their usefulness. Volumetric water content sensors have some extra advantages, for example they can measure the percentage of water in the soil, providing information on how much water is in the soil and how much is needed for the crop production in question. But more information can be extracted from this, such as the water conditions of the soil, the possible risks it faces, water stress, and so on.

It is clear that in a world that is becoming increasingly sustainable, precision agriculture is a reality that needs to be implemented, and moisture sensors are essential for this.