Underwatering or overwatering

Sixty percent of the world’s fresh water is used for irrigation. An important trend in managing diminishing freshwater supplies as well as sustaining crop productivity is automating irrigation control.

Farms will be the first to feel the heat from global warming. Crops requiring irrigation will also require innovation to better control overwatering or underwatering.

constantly take the temperature of the plants and soil around them. Bluetooth enables the sensors to wirelessly transmit data back to the base station, which then instructs individual sprinkler heads exactly how much water to dole out.

The new system washes away one of the biggest challenges facing irrigators: the endless variation in soil types that can exist across a field.

Take, for instance, clay and sandy soils, which have nearly opposite behaviors: one practically repels water, while the other sucks it in readily. But in a given field, these soils may be close neighbors, leading to an inevitable underwatering or overwatering scenario.

However, Evans and Kim’s system treats a field not as a “one-size-fits-all” soil zone, but as a collection of smaller, individual plots, each with its own set of organic idiosyncrasies.