Biodegradable, Cellulose Based, Soil Moisture Sensor

As a part of IoT4Ag’s Thrust 1, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have been developing and studying biodegradable, inexpensive, wireless sensors that can operate below the soil surface. These sensors can be densely deployed across agricultural fields to locally measure soil properties to detect conditions that predict future crop stress and allow for early intervention to improve crop yield. To-date, a capacitive moisture sensor has been realized on a cellulose nanofiber (CNF) substrate, allowing for biodegradability. The measured capacitance, capacitance change with soil moisture, and operating frequency are compatible with the passive, wireless sensor architecture being developed for sub-surface sensing. By observing soil conditions that lead to future crop stress we can intervene to increase crop yields while preventing overuse of fertilizer and water.

A summary of the moisture sensor design, SEM images of screen printed capacitors, and moisture response profiles.


Learn more about this collaborative work between Dr. Kevin Turner’s and Dr. Troy Olsson’s groups in their recent publication in IEEE Sensors.