Precision agriculture: Researchers turn plants into connected objects

Researchers at the University of Iowa’s MEMS and Biochips laboratory have published the results of their work. They have created ultra-fine sensors that can be attached to the plant to measure water consumption, key information for improving greenhouse or field crop yield and optimizing field irrigation. In addition to this precision farming, these sensors could also be used in architecture or healthcare.

A new kind of sensors for precision farming

American researchers have succeeded in creating graphene sensors that are only 5 millionths of a meter thick, 20 times thinner than a hair, sensors that can be placed on a plant or any object in the form of an adhesive tape. These sensors are made of graphene oxide, a moisture-sensitive material. This one which is placed on a polymer by 3D printing these graphene structures will measure the transpiration of the plant, and thus its water consumption.

Liang Dong, author of the research paper on these graphene sensors.

As Liang Dong, associate professor and author of the research paper points out: “The manufacturing process is very simple: Adhesive tape is all it takes to produce these sensors. Their cost is only a few cents.”

These sensors have been laboratory tested and then field tested in situ and a startup, EnGeniousAg, is in contact with Liang Dong research group researchers to commercialize the technology.



“Engineers make wearable sensors for plants, enabling measurements of water use in crops”, University of Iowa press release, 3 January 2018

“High-Resolution Patterning and Transferring of Graphene-Based Nanomaterials onto Tape toward Roll-to-Roll Production of Tape-Based Wearable Sensors”, research paper, November 17,2017


Translated with

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