University of Southampton enables the 'Internet of Dirt'

The Internet of Things, in which every device imaginable has connectivity, is rapidly emerging. And the UK's University of Southampton has added to that what might be called the "Internet of Dirt" via a wireless network of sensors that can be used for soil-based salinity measuring.

Nick Harris Southampton


Nick Harris, of the university's physical sciences and engineering faculty, collaborated with professors from the University of Western Australia to create a soil sensor, which can measure the chloride in soil moisture. Each sensor can link to others to create a wireless network that collates and relays readings.

"Traditionally, soil-based measurements involve taking samples and transporting them to the laboratory for analysis. This is very labor and cost intensive and therefore it usually means spot checks only with samples being taken every two to three months," Harris said.

"The removal of a soil sample from its natural environment also means that the same sample can only be measured once, so the traditional (destructive) method is not suited to measuring changes at a point over a period of time," he added.

The new sensor should have a lifetime in excess of one year. Each battery-powered unit can transmit data and information via short-range radio, Bluetooth, satellite or cellular. The university said that up to seven sensors can be connected at a time to a single transmitter. Data can also be logged to a memory card for later retrieval.

"These soil-based chloride sensors can benefit a wide range of applications. Large parts of the world have problems with salt causing agricultural land to be unusable, but the new sensors allow the level of salt to be measured in real time, rather than once every few months as was previously the case," Harris said.

For more:
- see this University of Southampton release

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