Israel’s Saturas, a portfolio company of The Trendlines Group’s Trendlines Agtech and the Migal Galilee Research Institute which develops agro-tech that conserves water, recently completed a series of successful field trials. The company states that the trials demonstrate the proof of concept of its embedded stem water sensor.
Fresh water is fast becoming the world’s most precious commodity. Soon it will be more valuable than oil, gold or even diamonds. Nations are already fighting over water resources. Over pumping of water from springs and other locations has caused the salt content to increase in the drinking water in many places around the world.
In California alone a terrible drought has led farmers to practically drain the State’s underground water resources. This is reportedly having a dire effect on the quality of the remaining water supplies and is actually causing the drought to continue.
Saturas estimates that most farmers typically overwater their crops by up to 20% “just to be on the safe side”. Overwatering puts pressure on an already scarce and expensive resource, increases pollution from nutrient-rich runoff, affects the quality of the fruit, and reduces profitability. Optimal irrigation can improve quality and quantity of crops and increase farmers’ incomes and profitability.
The field tests were conducted on peach and citrus trees at the Hula Valley Orchards Experimental Farm. The results were consistent with the stem water potential measurement using manual measurement tools and successfully demonstrated continuous measurement of the water status in the tree.
Based on the research of Dr. Moshe Meron, Saturas has developed a miniature stem water potential (SWP) sensor that is embedded in the trunks of trees, vines, and plants. SWP, it boasts, is a scientifically recognized, highly accurate parameter for determining water status in crops, but today SWP can only be measured in a labor-intensive procedure. The Saturas sensor provides accurate information for optimized irrigation to reduce water consumption with no stress to the plants, and increases fruit production and quality. Saturas’ precision agriculture sensing system is comprised of miniature implanted sensors, wireless transponders, and delivery of information to the farmer’s Internet device: computer, tablet or smartphone.
Despite numerous approaches to sensor-based irrigation, including measuring soil and leaf moisture, the market lacks a solution that combines accuracy, ease of use, and affordability. According to the company, The Saturas sensing system tailors irrigation to the crop’s real-time water needs, resulting in more efficient water use and increased yields, fruit size, and sugar content.