Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Automation & Microfluidics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

New Micro Water Sensor Can Aid Growers

Published: Monday, October 14, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, October 14, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Crop growers, wine grape and other fruit growers, food processors and even concrete makers all benefit from water sensors for accurate, steady and numerous moisture readings.

But current sensors are large, may cost thousands of dollars and often must be read manually.

Now, Cornell researchers have developed a microfluidic water sensor within a fingertip-sized silicon chip that is a hundred times more sensitive than current devices. The researchers are now completing soil tests and will soon test their design in plants, embedding their “lab on a chip” in the stems of grape vines, for example. They hope to mass produce the sensors for as little as $5 each.

In soil or when inserted into a plant stem, the chip is fitted with wires that can be hooked up to a card for wireless data transmission or is compatible with existing data-loggers. Chips may be left in place for years, though they may break in freezing temperatures. Such inexpensive and accurate sensors can be strategically spaced in plants and soil for accurate measurements in agricultural fields.

For example, sophisticated vintners use precise irrigation to put regulated water stress on grapevines to create just the right grape composition for a premium cabernet or a chardonnay wine. While growers can use the sensors to monitor water in soils for their crops, civil engineers can embed these chips in concrete to determine optimal moisture levels as the concrete cures.

“One of our goals is to try and develop something that is not only a great improvement, but also much cheaper for growers and others to use,” said Alan Lakso, professor of horticulture, who has been working on water sensing for 20 years.

The sensors make use of microfluidic technology – developed by Abraham Stroock, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering – that places a tiny cavity inside the chip. The cavity is filled with water, and then the chip may be inserted in a plant stem or in the soil where it, through a nanoporous membrane, exchanges moisture with its environment and maintains an equilibrium pressure that the chip measures.

Using chips embedded in plants or spaced across soil and linked wirelessly to computers, for example, growers may “control the precise moisture of blocks of land, based on target goals,” said Vinay Pagay, who helped develop the chip as a doctoral student in Lakso’s lab.

Ernest and Julio Gallo Winery and Welch’s juice company have already expressed interest in the sensors. And Cornell civil engineer Ken Hover has started working with Pagay and Lakso on using the sensors in concrete.

 The researchers seek to understand how values gathered from sensors inside a plant and in soils relate to plant growth and function, so that growers can translate sensor values and optimize management.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 4,000+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,300+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Measuring Chemistry on a Chip
Researchers developing chemical sensor chip for sample analysis in a lab or monitoring air and water quality in the field.
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Ingested Nanoparticles May Damage Liver
Although nanoparticles in food, sunscreen and other everyday products have many benefits, researchers from Cornell are finding that at certain doses, the particles might cause human organ damage.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Optical Traps on Chip Manipulate Many Molecules at Once
By shrinking the technology of an optical trap onto a single chip, Cornell physicists have created a device that can potentially reduce month-long experiments to days.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014
New DNA Cattle Test Beefs up Dairy and Meat Quality
A genomics technique developed at Cornell to improve corn can now be used to improve the quality of milk and meat.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
NIH-Funded Tissue Chips would Predict Drug Safety
Researchers from Cornell University will develop microphysiological modules to model the nervous, circulatory and gastrointestinal tract systems.
Friday, August 31, 2012
The Force is with us: GEDI Chip Sorts Prostate Cancer Cells
Geometrically Enhanced Differential Immunocapture chip identify and collect cancer cells from a patient's bloodstream.
Friday, June 29, 2012
Artificial Intestine Could Treat Children's Bowel Condition
A tiny 3-D collagen "scaffold" developed in a Cornell lab could prove a lifesaver for those who have lost parts of their intestine.
Monday, December 12, 2011
Microfluidic Devices for Circulating Tumor Cell Capture
The Kirby Research Group at Cornell University are attempting to use microfluidic devices to capture circulating tumor cells from prostate cancer patients, with a view towards preclinical evaluation of chemotherapeutic efficacy.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Scientific News
Automated Low Volume Dispensing Trends
Gain a better understanding of the current and future market requirements for fully automated LVD systems.
Blood-brain Barrier on a Chip
Researchers from Vanderbilt University have developed a microfluidic device to study the blood-brain barrier.
'Lab on the Skin' for Sweat Analysis
Northwestern University researchers develop a low-cost wearable electronic device that collects and analyzes sweat for health monitoring.
Peer Review is in Crisis, But Should be Fixed, Not Abolished
After the time to get the science done, peer review has become the slowest step in the process of sharing studies, and some scientists have had enough.
Making Every Cell Matter
New method for encapsulating single cells within microgels could boost efficacy of cell-based therapies and tissue engineering.
Modelling Cigarette Effects with Airway-on-a-Chip
An instrument that smokes cigarettes like a human, and delivers whole smoke to the air space of microfluidic human airway chips, enables new insights into how non-smokers and COPD patients respond to smoke.
Robotic Cleaning Technique Could Automate Neuroscience Research
New robotic cleaning technique allows pipettes used in patch-clamping to be re-used up to 11 or more times.
Lab-on-a-Chip to Help Detect Cancer
In this podcast, we speak to Gustavo Stolovitsky to learn about his career and the work he is doing at IBM Research.
First Entirely 3D-printed Organ-on-a-Chip with Integrated Sensors
New approach to manufacturing may allow researchers to rapidly design organs-on-chips that match the properties of a specific disease or individual patient's cells.
Size Matters for Particles in Bloodstream
Research uncovers more information about how particles behave in the human bloodstream.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
4,000+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,300+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!