Using microneedles, a technology borrowed from medicine, researchers mine real-time data to make farming hyper-efficient—and more sustainable
By Emma Bryce
What if we could closely track the health of plants, the way we use a monitor to track a human heartbeat? Researchers have moved us closer to this goal, with a new type of microsensor that can be inserted into the leaves and stems of crops to directly monitor information about their health and productivity.
This is one of the most recent innovations to come out of precision agriculture, a field of research and technological development that aims to gather as much data as possible on the optimal growing conditions for plants – typically using technologies like soil sensors and camera-fitted drones. Gathering this information could increase the efficiency of fertilizer and water to cut back on waste, pollution, and emissions. By finding out exactly what crops need, precision agriculture could also increase yields, which would have the added benefit of maximising land use and limiting agricultural expansion — one of the biggest threats to wild habitat, and a contributor to climate change.
The researchers on the new study think their newly-developed sensors — tiny, needle-like structures made of polymers, which are inserted into plants — could be a powerful addition to the precision agriculture toolbox.Continue reading… “Tiny, needle-like sensors inserted into plants are the latest addition to precision agriculture”