Now the crops will to talk to farmers. Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder have adapted a technology developed by NASA for conserving water for plant growth during long-time space flights to enable crops to tell farmers their requirement for water.
For this, the farmer needs to attach a tiny sensor to the leaves of the crop. When the plant will feel the need for water, data from the leaves will be sent to computers linked to irrigation equipment. The transfer of data will take place wirelessly over the Internet. The data will then regulate the flow of water and will give just enough water to the crop.
The technology is expected to save lot of money and also water used for irrigation. Thus the technology is seen as an eco-friendly technology.
The technology has been developed by Hans-Dieter Seelig of the UCB’s BioServe Space Technologies Center, a non-profit, NASA-sponsored Research Partnership Center. It has now been transferred to AgriHouse, also based in Colorado, to develop it commercially.
How does the technology work?
Hans-Dieter Seelig said:
Less than one-tenth the size of a postage stamp, the sensor consists of an integrated-circuit chip that clips to individual plant leaves and collects and stores information, which can be wirelessly transmitted to selected computers. The computers, for example, could instruct individual pivot irrigation systems used widely on Colorado’s eastern plains to dispense set amounts of water to particular crops, automatically turning the motors that drive them on-and-off and conserving water and energy in the process.
The technology will also reduce the number of watering days for many crops by one or two days a week. Since irrigation accounts for a large share of water (40% of the freshwater use in the US), this will reduce the pressure on water sources.
The technology sounds really great and if successfully implemented, it may help reduce the pressure on water resources of the world and also conserve lot of water that is till now being used up in irrigation. So far the farmers rely on their experience and intuition to water their crops but if the crop is able to communicate to the farmer their need of water, this will surely enable a more effective water supply to the crop. Hope this technology proves a boon to the world–without any harmful side effects.