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EC wireless sensor: more production and higher quality in agriculture

The wireless sensor EC (electrical conductivity) is an IoT device (Internet of Things) and is used in agriculture and hydroponic greenhouses for the control of fertigation solutions in order to measure the amount and solubility of the dissolved salts, and balance their quantity. This tool is very important for the precision agriculture.

The salinity of the soil, whether in excess or deficiency in fact, is one of the causes making an unsuitable land for agriculture, limiting productivity.

SALINITY: CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES

The salinity levels are determined by

    • natural factors (drought, evaporation). When it does not rain, for example, there is not enough water to dissolve the salts naturally present or accumulated in the soil. These are concentrated in the rhizosphere, in the vicinity of the roots (SALINISATION) to the detriment of the plant.
    • human factors. Because of the overuse of aquifers (for domestic and industrial use) in coastal areas there is an imbalance between levels of salt and fresh water resulting in the movement of water from the sea in freshwater layers (salt water intrusion), making them more brackish or saline.
    • irrigation. In the presence of irrigation with poor drainage (water intake in excess of the absorption capacity of the ground), the evaporation of water leaves the salts concentrated in the soil (SALINISATION SECONDARY).
      Another effect of a bad irrigation management: the leaching of nutrients with the consequent decrease in the soil.
  • fertilization. A massive use of fertilizers may lead to an accumulation of nitrates and phosphates harmful for the plant and, above all, responsible for the killing of the bacterial flora of the soil, important for the production of micro-nutrient (catalysts of biochemical reactions that occur in plants) through the organic decomposition.

A low level of salinity can lead to nutritional deficiencies, a high level may jeopardize the growth of plants.

salt-stress-soil

WIRELESS SENSOR EC (electrical conductivity)

Features

The EC wireless sensor Auroras is an IoT tool (Internet of Things) designed to measure the electro-conductivity of a solution, which varies based on the amount of salts concentrated in the nutrient solution.

Auroras chooses the best probes on the market and implements them in its own solution to offer the best price / performance ratio.

A monitoring of this parameter is essential for improving the yield of the crops and to achieve the typical production levels of precision agriculture.

ec_sensor

ec sensor

Knowing the concentration of the solution is critical to understand the absorption by the plant. The roots, in fact, absorb water and nutrients by osmosis.

The osmosis can occur only between two solutions separated by a semi-permeable membrane, with a different concentration: the less concentrated solution flows into the more concentrated, naturally.

Consequently:

if the nutrient solution is too concentrated (high EC), the plant absorbs it hardly and soon withers;

if the solution is too diluted (low EC), the plant feeds on few minerals and this will affect the production in the long run.

The EC wireless sensor measures the osmotic pressure in an indirect way.

For more information on EC wireless sensor and other sensors for agriculture, read this post.

Applications

The EC wireless sensor can be used directly in the field or integrated in a more complex platform as the tools IoT (Internet of Things = interconnected devices that communicate in an automatic way for the collection of data and / or the triggering of desired actions system). The application is perfect in the field of precision agriculture.

The data collected are used to support the farmer to calibrate the interventions of fertigation, identifying

    • the right amount of fertilizer to be administered,
    • the time of intervention,
  • the right recipe of fertilizer as needed.

In some cases, as the cultivation of cherry tomato for example, the plant prefers a soil with a high level of salinity which gives more texture and flavor to the fruit.

A case history on the use of EC wireless sensor in an IoT platform for a hydroponic greenhouse is shown in this post.

After a few months, the greenhouse production increased considerably both in quantitative and qualitative terms. In this post, some data provided by farmer.

The high technological content of these tools ensures reliability and precision and are therefore mandatory tools for precision farming. At the same time, sensors and IoT systems (Internet of Things) are easy to use and easy to understand. The data is automatically transmitted via wireless communication and processed before being presented in graphs and clear and exhaustive report.





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