UW-Stout’s project, A HumanCentered Collaborative Approach to Designing an Energy-Efficient Wireless Sensor, will be a network of eight sensors that monitor temperature, humidity, wind, soil moisture, heat and more. The sensors feed data to a central unit in the ground, a sink node, which relays it to a satellite tower and the Internet.
Farmers would then evaluate the information to support decision-making regarding their crops.
Research has indicated that precision agriculture can significantly enhance farming efficiency, increasing crop yield and quality by at least 15%, reduce the cost of water and pumping it by 30% and boost profitability by up to $100 per acre.
Farmers have been slow to adopt similar technology because of cost and maintenance issues. But this network will be battery-operated — no wires to bury. Plus, the sensors will harvest various types of ambient energy, such as geothermal, to reduce the need for battery replacement.