Engineering Minute

Engineering Minute – Water-Saving Irrigation Sensor

Engineers at the University of Connecticut have developed a crop irrigation sensor that is both cost effective and easy to manufacture. The device can accurately measure soil moisture, reducing wasted water consumption by farmers. 


water irrigation sensor
A team of University of Connecticut researchers engineered a soil moisture sensor that is more cost effective than anything currently available and responds to the global need to regulate water consumption in agriculture. Credit: University of Connecticut

“Advances in hydrological science are hampered by the lack of on site soil moisture data,” said Guiling Wang, study author and professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Connecticut. “It’s really hard to monitor and measure things underground. The challenge is that the existing sensors are very expensive and the installation process is very labor intensive.”


From the University of Connecticut article: "The sensors developed by the team of UConn engineers — environmental, mechanical, and chemical — are expected to save nearly 35% of water consumption and cost far less than what exists. Current sensors that are used in a similar way range from $100 to $1,000 each, while the one developed at UConn cost $2, according to the researchers.

An alternate monitoring option, soil moisture data collected from remote sensing technology such as radars and radiometers on board satellites, have suffered from low resolution. But the new technology developed by UConn Professor Baikun Li’s group can provide high spatio-temporal resolution data needed for hydrology model development in Wang’s group.

In the UConn prototype, wires are connected from the sensors to an instrument that logs data. Researchers conducted field tests of the sensors — performing side-by-side tests with commercial sensors under various environmental conditions throughout a 10-month period. The effects of the environmental variations on soil moisture throughout the period were clearly reflected."


Read more about crop irrigation sensor that saves water at the University of Connecticut.

About Synectic Product Development: Synectic Product Development is a full-scale product development company. Vertically integrated within the Mack Group, our capabilities allow us to take your design from concept all the way to full scale production. We strive for ingenuity, cost-effectiveness, and aesthetics in our designs.  Learn more about our product design services and see how we can help your next project.