Sensors enable accurate crop management

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Vegetable, fruit and arable producers can now more accurately irrigate, manage and protect their crops thanks to two new environment monitoring sensors from Sencrop.

Water stress is an increasing concern due to the changing climate, and the new Soilcrop sensor takes real-time measurements of soil moisture and temperature at depths of up 60cm. This enables producers to trigger irrigation at the right time, based on existing and forecast conditions, and turn it off when soil moisture reaches the required level. In addition, it can be used to identify the most suitable time for other weather-dependent field work, including sowing and fertiliser application.

“Soilcrop takes measurements every 15 minutes at depths of 10cm, 20cm, 40cm and 60cm, giving an accurate picture of soil moisture content and temperature throughout the profile,” says Mark Herriman at Sencrop. “And if used in conjunction with Raincrop, a sensor that measures rain, temperature and air humidity, the app can show in a user-friendly graph the forecast soil moisture, using real-time data and forecasts. Producers can therefore be even more precise when it comes to crop management decisions.”

For fruit and wine producers, frost is a particular challenge, so the new Thermocrop sensor offers an entry-level monitor to help predict frost damage up to four days in advance. It measures both air temperature and humidity every five minutes, and is integrated with Sencrop’s other weather management software to create predefined or personalised frost alerts within the app.

“Accurately anticipating the risk of frost is essential if you are to trigger your frost control measures at the right time, thereby protecting your crops while keeping costs to a minimum,” says Mr Herriman.

Thermocrop is a low-budget alternative to its big brother Leafcrop, which was launched in 2019. Whereas Leafcrop is a connected sensor placed on the plant itself to obtain accurate temperature, humidity and moisture measurements, Thermocrop is placed in the middle of the field for more general measurement. Its price point enables all farmers to make use of this precision technology, although using both gives a more accurate view of what is happening on the land for greatest frost protection.