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Novel sensor measures soil and crop conditions in near real time, provides actionable data

With the world’s population forecasted to grow from about 7 billion in 2010 to 10 billion by 2050, many players are actively working on the global challenge to balance food production while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from agricultural production.

Soiltech Wireless Inc, based in Rupert, Idaho contributes to both sides of the equation – monitoring variables that affect crop quality so that farmers can increase yield, as well as providing near real-time, actionable data that allow farmers to decrease watering occasions and trips to the field, says CEO and Founder of the company, Ehsan Soltan.

“Our Soiltech Sensor precisely records and transmits data for soil moisture, temperature, humidity, location and impacts that may create bruising while crops are being grown, transported, and stored – all enabled by AT&T’s nationwide, highly secure LTE-M cellular network,” Soltan says.

He points out that Soiltech Wireless and AT&T worked together during the 2020 growing season to measure the environmental and operational benefits of using the sensor on an Idaho potato farm.

“Not only could farmers see up to a 4% increase in yield,” Soltan says, “but there is the potential to save millions of gallons of water and hundreds of thousands gallons of gasoline across a single farming operation with the Soiltech Sensor.”

 Randy Bauscher, of B&H Farming notes that “it’s great to have the data right there on the app. When you’re really busy and you don’t have time to go drive out to dig into a field, you can pull up the app and look at the readings in near real-time to see that you’re okay to wait a day to go check it.” 

Says John Schulz, Director of Sustainability Integration at AT&T: “I’m encouraged that companies like Soiltech are using AT&T technology to help farmers improve agricultural yields as well as conserve water and reduce emissions in the process.”

Ehsan Soltan points out that placing real farm challenges front and center was key to the sensor’s development process which began at the end of 2017.

“In talking with growers, almost every single one said water was the most important factor, not just in determining operational expenses, but quality, micronutrients, and many other measurements,” he says.

Luke Radford, agronomist at Moss Farms is impressed by the sensor’s ability to travel from soil to storage adds functionality and visibility across a whole farm and whole growing season – a perspective that other sensors lack. “Besides being a soil moisture monitor, it’s an all-crop monitor,” Radford remarks.

A potato case study – released in December 2020 and available on www.att.com/10x – highlights both environmental and business benefits of the sensor across the crop life cycle: growth, harvest, transportation and storage. And while the case study demonstrates results achieved for potatoes, Soiltech’s customers monitor a variety of other crops, including corn, onions, sugar beets, sweet potatoes, hay, alfalfa, barley, beans, watermelon, and cotton.

“When I go walk fields with a grower, one of the first things we do is pull up the soil sensor data,” says Jared Cook, consultant for Fertilizer and Crop Protection at Rocky Mountain Agronomics. “We look at the trend as we walk the crop to see how it looks. The fact that the data is real time and can be pulled up right there as you are looking at the actual conditions helps us make better decisions about managing the crop.”

The Soiltech Sensor provides actionable insights without complicated installation – allowing growers and other supply chain participants to view near real-time data to drive efficiency and optimize quality.

Ehsan Soltan can be reached at [email protected] for more information, or visit the Soiltech Wireless website: www.soiltechwireless.com.

Source: Soiltech Wireless
Case study: www.att.com/10x

Video below: The robust Soiltech Sensor can be harvested together with crops. It will measure impacts that occur throughout the harvesting process and provides insights on how to reduce crop damage. After harvesting, the Soiltech Sensor can then monitor environmental conditions, such as temperature and humidity, in long term crop storage. The video can also be watched on YouTube here.

Video below: Soiltech uses AT&T Internet of Things connectivity to optimize food from soil to storage, helping increase yield, reduce waste and lower emissions. The video can also be watched on YouTube here.

Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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