Now, plants can SMS when they're thirsty!
Israeli scientists have developed a new device enables plants to send a text message when they need a drink.india Updated: Mar 19, 2009 18:03 IST
Israeli scientists have developed a new device enables plants to send a text message when they need a drink.
According to a report by Fox News, Israel Agricultural Ministry plant physiologist Dr. Eran Raveh and his earth-scientist partner Dr. Arie Nadler spent seven years perfecting the hammer-shaped sensor that gauges moisture levels in plants and trees and sends real-time alerts to mobile phones or computers when water levels are low.
"The idea behind creating the sensor was to cut irrigation costs by up to 50 per cent," Raveh told Fox News.
The sensor helps cut water usage and avoid unnecessary and damaging over-irrigation by providing accurate water-level feedback.
"With this sensor, the level of irrigation, and primarily its timing, will be controlled by the farmers themselves," Nadler said.
According to the scientists, farmers check no fewer than 26 points in soil surrounding a plant to monitor and gauge moisture levels.
The sensor, operating on an electrical conductivity principal, continuously measures and collects water-level data via a series of metallic nails inserted into plant stems.
When water levels drop, electric activity halts, and a text message or e-mail automatically goes out to someone who can turn on the spigot.
The notification mode works on a wireless principal similar to walkie-talkie communication.
Sensors placed in an orchard or nursery are connected to a central device within a home or nerve center in a grove, and from that point, messages are transferred out to the end user''s mobile phone or computer.
"What''s great about our sensor is that it''s highly accurate without being prohibitively expensive," Raveh explained.
At 250 dollars for a 5,000-tree orchard - versus 12,000 dollars for a similar high-tech probe - the Israeli scientists say price and accuracy set them apart.
Domestic consumers are eager to try out the sensor, saying it will be a welcome addition in the home. Major-market agriculturalists are also eyeing the gadget for future implementation.
"There is certainly interest in this proposed methodology," Dr. Donald Suarez, director of the USDA Agricultural Research Salinity Laboratory in Riverside, California, told Fox News.
"The technology in general of measuring stem flow is emerging, and it hasn''t been widely adopted by farmers or growers yet," he added.
But, with the combined incentives of reduced cost and hi-tech notification systems, the Israeli scientists are looking to find mass appeal.