Editorial Feature

Helping Agriculture Using Sensors

Close to 10 billion people will inhabit the world by 2050 according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In line with this, is the growth in the demand for food. The agricultural sector, which is supposed to secure food supply, is facing challenges that threaten its very role.

Among these challenges are:

  1. Urbanization – farmlands are being transformed into residential areas or industrial sites, limiting the space to grow food
  2. Poverty – extreme poverty, especially in rural areas, forces farmers to seek employment in more developed, highly urbanized places
  3. Climate change and natural disasters – food production as well as access to food are being put at risk because of these phenomena.

To address these concerns, the agriculture sector, with the help of technology, seek for sustainable solutions that will increase production at a reduced cost and without sacrificing the environment.

Image Credits: MONOPOLY919/shutterstock.com

Precision Agriculture

One such solution is a farm management approach called Precision Agriculture (PA). UK’s Home Grown Cereals Authority (HGCA) define Precision Agriculture as “management of farm practices that uses computers, satellite positioning systems and remote sensing devices to provide information on which enhanced decisions can be made.” It helps farmers understand more their fields and their crops allowing them to appropriately use techniques in applying fertilizers and pesticides, assessing soil quality, monitoring plant growth, detecting weeds and many other applications.

Sensor Applications in Agriculture

Some of the sensors used in agriculture are as follows:

Optical sensors – these sensors measure the type and intensity of the reflected light wavelengths to evaluate crop and soil conditions. The reflected green light wavelength can be used to measure chlorophyll in leaves and evaluate conditions causing the reduction in green color such as nitrogen status, sulfur and iron deficiency. Optical sensors are also used to predict clay, organic matter, and moisture content in soil.

Mechanical sensors – these sensors measure soil mechanical resistance, often related to level of soil compaction. Compacted soil, which can be caused by the heavy weight of field equipment or just the natural soil forming processes, can lead to soil degradation and affect crop production negatively.

Electromagnetic sensorsdue to low cost, high durability and rapid response, these sensors are commonly used for on-the-go soil mapping. Electromagnetic properties of soil are measured by its capability to conduct or accumulate electrical charge and are influenced by soil texture, organic matter or total carbon content, moisture content, salinity, residual nitrate content and other soil attributes.

Electrochemical sensorsthese sensors have been successfully used to evaluate how fertile soil is by measuring the soil’s chemistry through tests such as nutrient content and pH level. Two commonly used electrochemical sensors are ion-selective electrodes (ISE) and ion-selective field effect transistor (ISFET). They measure the activity of selected ions (H+, K+, Na+, etc.) in the soil as well as the uptake of these ions by plants. Monitoring ion concentrations in plants helps farmers to design fertilization strategies that optimize production.


To address the challenges being faced by the agriculture sector, modern technologies are being developed to increase efficiency of farm inputs and reduce the environmental impact of farming. Precision agriculture utilizes these technologies, especially the different types of sensors to measure and evaluate soil and crop conditions. Farm producers benefit from these through reduction of farm inputs and at the same time optimizing farm outputs. Quality of crops is also being improved while taking into consideration the impact to the environment.


Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Rose Ann Tegio

Written by

Rose Ann Tegio

Rose Ann earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics with specialization in Materials Science. She graduated with Latin Honors from the De La Salle University, one of the top universities in the Philippines.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Tegio, Rose Ann. (2019, February 05). Helping Agriculture Using Sensors. AZoSensors. Retrieved on April 18, 2024 from https://www.azosensors.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=1329.

  • MLA

    Tegio, Rose Ann. "Helping Agriculture Using Sensors". AZoSensors. 18 April 2024. <https://www.azosensors.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=1329>.

  • Chicago

    Tegio, Rose Ann. "Helping Agriculture Using Sensors". AZoSensors. https://www.azosensors.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=1329. (accessed April 18, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Tegio, Rose Ann. 2019. Helping Agriculture Using Sensors. AZoSensors, viewed 18 April 2024, https://www.azosensors.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=1329.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.