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Soil & Irrigation Sensor Partners

Updated: Jul 23

Learn more about the teams that are making the Smart Orchard feasible


As many of you know, the Innov8.ag team has recently partnered up with the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission (WTFRC) and Washington State University (WSU) to conduct what we call the Smart Orchard Project at Chiawana Orchards. Our goal is to "sensorize" an orchard from multiple hardware providers, bringing together growers, data, and researchers to create a sustainable, "smart" orchard with insights that impact growers' bottom lines. For more information and pictures, please visit our Smart Orchard page on the Innov8.ag website or read our most recent blog posts - "The Future in a Modern Orchard" and "Weather Sensor Partners".


As a company, we see the importance of tying together data from multiple sensor providers to become more cost-effective and sustainable throughout agriculture. In this case specifically, we are looking for ways to reduce water usage and the amount of labor that goes into the irrigation of crops, especially since these are the most significant expenses for growers. Allocating this data in order to optimize water usage adds tremendous amounts of value for the grower as it allows them to determine exactly how much water the crop needs, where it is going in the soil, and the appropriate amount of nutrients for the plant. All of this inevitably contributes to higher crop yields and more money saved.


As stated before, this collaboration was designed in order to "sensorize" an orchard from multiple hardware providers. The Innov8.ag team would like to present to you the different companies and the different kinds of sensors they are providing the Smart Orchard along the way. Innov8.ag would like to share with you the value created by the implementation of these sensors provided under the collaboration at the Smart Orchard Project.


Chiawana Orchards irrigates their orchard through three main types of irrigation that include above canopy sprinklers, drip irrigation, and ground sprinkler irrigation. For more reading pleasure about these types of irrigation and how ag tech helps growers save money, check out a past blog called "Irrigating Your Food to Save Big"



Insight Relevance:

We recently sent a survey to a select group of growers to ask them what processes would benefit them the most if sensor, labor, chemical, & water data were to be integrated into their farm. The most common answer was that they would love to see data from irrigation to better inform their water optimization activities.

The sensors we are working with and discussed below, will generate real time data that is readily available to the grower. With this data, our company allows the grower to own the information and do what they want with it, attributing to "empowering growers with data." This data then enables insights and timely, effective decisions that impact the growers decisions relating to water usage and labor that impact their bottom line.

Soil Moisture Analysis:

We have deployed multiple sensors from the below listed companies, each of these sensors pull data from 4 to 36 inches in the ground as they analyze both soil moisture and soil temperature. Unlike the soil temperature measurements, different providers scale their soil moisture differently, so as a company we primarily analyze the variations of the curves in order to make our informed insights. We have noticed that most of the probes contained similar moisture peaks, where some represented slight differences due to their placement throughout the orchard. For instance the Tuctronics ANM01215 (red solid curve) and the AquaSpy 18343 (green solid curve) are closely installed together and their variations are closely synchronized.




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Tuctronics- Sentek Soil Moisture Probes & Irrigation Pressure Sensors

Tuctronics/AgriNET is a Sentek dealer. They combine an industry-leading soil moisture sensor with AgriNET's reliable telemetry line yield information. These "drill & drop" sensors are used to detect soil moisture, salinity, temperature, and changes in the soil over time, reaching depths of up to 120 centimeters/48 inches.


Tuctronics also utilizes pressure switches throughout customer systems to capture exact start/stop times for irrigation. Combined with soil moisture data, their package identifies water percolation rate across different areas of farms, which vary due to soil types.



Soil Moisture Data: Soil Temperature Data:





Aqua Spy - Soil Moisture Monitoring Probes

Aqua Spy has provided their soil moisture monitoring probes for this project. These probes don't leave any guessing for the grower as they track crop behavior of both water and nutrients up to 48 inches. Aqua Spy really focuses on the Active Root Zone to maximize crop health and yields.






















Soil Moisture Data: Soil Temperature Data:





Meter Group - Teros 21, Water Potential Sensor

The Teros 21 sensor comes in handy when measuring soil water potential. This sensor is a worthwhile investment as it is affordable, easy to set up, requires no maintenance, is accurate enough for growing applications, and is calibrated for the Smart Orchard's crops and soil needs. With the TEROS 21, applications like scheduling managed stress during critical crop development stages are accessible and less labor intensive. It has plug and play capabilities with near real-time data access from the cloud when used with the ZL6 data logger.


At Chiawana Orchards, we are using these sensors at 20cm & 40cm depths to identify the percentage of water in the soil, determine if that water is actually available to the plant, as well as determine where that water will be going. This allows the grower to save water and maximize water usage potential in the soil.


Soil Moisture Data: Soil Temperature Data:





Teralytic- Soil Nutrient Probes

Teralytic is providing the world's first wireless NPK sensor. This single probe contains 26 sensors that report on soil moisture, salinity, NPK at three different depths, aeration, respiration, air temperature, light, and even humidity.


These probes provide a detailed view of the orchard's soil fertility and quality, from the topsoil all the way to below the roots, with precise control and nutrient management and irrigation recommendations that are customized to the specific crops on Chiawana's Orchard. With these advanced sensors, the Smart Orchard project can now maintain detailed fertility maps and zones, allowing growers to adopt BMP’s that increase profitability and sustainability of the orchard through optimum input management.


Soil Moisture Data: Soil Temperature Data:



Please stay tuned for our upcoming posts as we will continue to intertwine more and more actionable insights that we are gaining and learning from during our time spent out at The Smart Orchard Project. As time progresses, we will be able to pull actionable data together and determine how it interrelates the growers ability to control labor, water usage, chemicals, weather, and even equipment.

Feel free to share this post with anyone that you think could gain added value from it. Our company is here to assist growers and the community built around agriculture!


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