The increasing demand for agricultural products has driven the industries in this sector to intensive farming practices that result in increased costs and environmental degradation. Precision agriculture is one of the most significant advances in the sector since the introduction of mechanization in that it takes into consideration the spatial and temporal requirements of the soil, allowing production and profitability to be maximized while reducing the risks of environmental degradation. Wireless sensor networks are a key technology in the implementation of precision agriculture. This technology is already being used in precision irrigation, enabling the release of a strictly controlled amount of water in a particular location as and when necessary, thus optimising the production process. However, the lack of suitable sensors for controlling other basic parameters, such as temperature, pH and nutrients for fertilization have prevented the introduction of a system similar to the ones used in irrigation. The AgriSensAct project aims to provide a solution to this need.
The project is developing a precision agriculture system for soil fertilization systems based on the AgriProbe concept. This modular device is comprised of various sensors, built-in power generation and a communications unit and can be adapted for specific agricultural applications. New processes for detecting soil nutrients are being developed for the AgriProbe sensor unit by using thin film coatings and the projected use of self-sustaining systems for harvesting energy. The project also aims to develop new product concepts, such as probes and inter-changeable systems which will give the consortium's SMEs a competitive advantage and consequently allow them to expand or consolidate their businesses.