Corn and potato crops may soon provide information to farmers about when they need water and how much should be delivered.
The technology, originally developed for NASA to conserve water for plant growth during long-term space flights, is now being used by researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder to serve another purpose. Plant leaves can be clipped with tiny sensors that chart their moisture content, a key measure of water deficiency and accompanying stress.
When the plant feels it needs some water, data from the plant leaves will be sent wirelessly over the Internet to computers linked to irrigation equipment, ensuring timely watering, cutting down on excessive water and energy use – saving millions of dollars per year for farmers in Colorado. This non-intrusive device will allow plants to interface with the digital world.