Monitoring Plant Growth with Sensors

Farming can be a business of high-risk, squeezed profit margins, and large amounts of debt. The agricultural industry across the world is often exposed to circumstances it is unable to make provisions for and farmers constantly find themselves dealing with circumstances of transformation.

However, researchers recently experimenting with new technology, high-throughput automated plant phenotyping hopes to reduce the risks and increase the profit margins for farmers in Hinesburg, VT, US. For the construction of this new technology, ToughSonic ultrasonic distance sensors from Senix Corporation are being used.

Senix ToughSonic Sensors

To resolve the issue surrounding whether or not monitoring crops early in the growing season with automated non-contact measurements would relate to end-of-season crop yields, the Biological Systems Engineering group at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln made use of Senix ToughSonic sensors. Throughout the 2015 growing season, tests were carried out and completed by observing wheat and soybean fields using Senix ToughSonic sensors. These sensors were used to measure crop canopy height (how tall the plants were), while other sensors were used in the measuring of the “Normalized Difference Vegetation Index”, reflectance, temperature, and RGB color.

Results can be found published open-source using the link below: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0168169916302289

To summarize the outcome, significant correlations were observed between the various groups of non-contact sensor data recorded early in the growing season and those of the subsequent crop yields at the late end of the season.

Robust and Reliable Ultrasonic Distance Sensors

Researcher and team member, Assistant Professor Yufeng Ge, said, “The Senix sensor works well for us and I found it robust and reliable for the plant height measurements in our applications.” Ge confirmed that comparable research continued throughout 2016 and through to 2017. Furthermore, Ge stated that over the next few years, the studies would expand to include corn, camelina, and sorghum.

Two of the researchers moving the phenotyping cart through a young wheat field.

Two of the researchers moving the phenotyping cart through a young wheat field.

This news has been warmly welcomed as manufacturers of heavy machinery and equipment for the agricultural industry are now talking about integrating Senix ToughSonic sensors to measure crop canopy in real-time while moving through the fields.

Precision Agriculture

What this progressive research and development allow for is the realization of ‘precision agriculture’, which, based on real-time data feeds, applies the correct amount of fertilizer and water required to small individual sections of a field, right down to individual plants in some cases. Senix is proud to be a part of this breakthrough as state-of-the-art agricultural technology can now reduce the burden and risks put on farmers as well as providing a boost to profits.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Senix Corporation.

For more information on this source, please visit Senix Corporation.

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