Leaf sensors notify farmers to water crops

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The farmers always overcome difficulties in growing crops all over the world. It is difficult to judge the crop that it needs accurate amounts of water. Depends upon the climate and also by capacity of crops.

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The researchers from Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences developed a sensor for leaf that measures the electrical capacitance and thickness. These advancement helps farmers to use their irrigation system appropriately without wasting water. Watering crops for prolonged hours causes water stress.

Particularly critical in arid regions, measuring soil moisture content or developing evapo transpiration models.  They evaluate the sum of surface evaporation and transpiration of plant. But to increase efficiency of water usage with technology more accurately detects when plants need to be watered. Lead researcher Amin Afzal, a doctoral degree candidate in plant science. Integrated into a leaf sensor the capability to simultaneously measure leaf thickness and leaf electrical capacitance.

The researchers selected six leaves and exposed directly to light sources and attached leaf sensors on them without pressure on main veins and the edges. The measurements  taken at five-minute intervals. The leaf-thickness randomly changed are minor, Day-to-day changes when soil moisture contents ranged from high to sinking point.

Electrical capacitance a reflection of Photosynthetic Activity

However, Leaf-thickness is noticeable at soil-moisture levels below the sinking point. until thickness stabilized during the experiment. The moisture content reached 5 percent.

The electrical capacitance, shows the ability of a leaf to store a charge, constant at a minimum value during dark climate and increased rapidly during light climate, including that electrical capacitance a reflection of photosynthetic activity. Electrical-capacitance variations decreased when soil moisture is below the sinking point and completely blocked below the soil volumetric water content of 11 percent. The water stress on electrical capacitance observed through its impact on photosynthesis.

The study is the latest in a line of research Afzal hopes will end in the development of a system of leaf clip sensors will send information about plant moisture to a central unit in a field, communicates with an irrigation system to water the crop. He visualize an arrangement in with sensors, central unit and irrigation system together communicate without wires, and the sensors can be powered wireless with batteries or solar cells.

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In analyzing the study Afzal finished evaluating leaf sensors on tomato plants in a greenhouse. The results confirmed the outcomes. Further developing an algorithm to translate the leaf thickness and capacitance variations to meaningful information about plant water status.

 

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