Soil sensor pairs with AI to minimise fertiliser use
Scientists from Imperial College London have designed a new type of soil sensor that can help farmers use fertiliser more efficiently and improve soil health.
Published in Nature Food, the researchers’ study identifies how the AI solution could help growers yield maximum crops with minimal fertilisation, particularly for fertiliser-thirsty crops like wheat. According to the team, the technology could simultaneously reduce growers’ expenses and environmental harm from nitrogen-based fertilisers, the most widely used fertiliser type.
The ‘Chemically functionalised paper-based electrical gas sensor (chemPEGS)’ measures levels of ammonium in soil, the compound that is converted to nitrites and nitrates by soil bacteria. Using machine learning, the sensor combines this with weather data, time since fertilisation, pH and soil conductivity measurements, estimating how much total nitrogen the soil currently has and how much it will have up to 12 days in the future. This will give farmers better visibility over the state of their soil, preventing over-fertilisation which releases nitrous oxide and leads to pollution in waterways.
🖱 Read more here