For a More Sustainable Planet, Soil Health is Key
With agrifood tech startups worldwide raising $16.9 billion in 2018, attention is needed most at the beginning of the food journey—the soil....Read More
Throughout 2018, the Teralytic team was busy piloting our probes in a range of soil types and field conditions. By working with growers in a variety of geographic regions—from Montana to New Zealand—we have been continually learning and improving our product.
Through a strawberry farm installation in Santa Maria, California, we gathered useful feedback about proper gateway and probe installation methods. This was used to develop our latest instructional video and install manual to assist field technicians. We also learned more about the importance of properly marking probes in the field and communicating with the field team about probe placement—tractors will destroy the probe head, if run over!
In Kalispell, Montana, we partnered with Trimble® at Hubbard Farm to grow alfalfa with a barley interseed. Teralytic's VP of Soil Science Meagan Hynes, PhD, and Agronomist/Senior Field Technician Jason Steffen looked at various data sets to develop a case study on proper probe placement. They selected five locations based on varying soil characteristics—pH, clay, sand, salinity, soil depth, topography—and insight from Trimble’s Soil Information System (SIS) data and Crop Health Imagery. This pilot helped develop precision agriculture use cases, looking at variable-rate irrigation and fertilization as well as evaluating water and fertilizer savings for the grower.
At the Louisiana State University Ag Center Sweet Potato Research Station, we partnered with Arthur Villordon, PhD, and his team to evaluate the use of sensor technology for in-season nutrient management. Using non-destructive (after minimal soil disruption at install) data collection, the team's work included comparing soil-based methods to plant tissue nutrient monitoring methods; investigating the role of soil moisture in plant nutrient acquisition; and monitoring to improve production efficiency.
“The integrated soil moisture and NPK sensing is offering unique insights about the role of water availability in plant nutrient acquisition (known all along but difficult to document with conventional tools)—and these insights and, more importantly, data points, can be conveyed quite clearly to farmers, consultants, and other stakeholders," said Dr. Villordon.
“The concept of ‘disruptive innovation’ comes to mind.” –Arthur Villordon, PhD, on using Teralytic NPK probes.
At Alcorn State University in Mississippi, we installed probes to manage Japanese Persimmons, mustard greens, and pine and shiitake mushrooms, among other crops. Within this diverse range, we found that even in difficult terrain—with many trees blocking the line of sight between probe and gateway—we were able to achieve quality LoRa signal, easily transmitting data to the dashboard.
Finally, Potatoes New Zealand (an association representing the interests of the New Zealand potato industry) and LandWISE (an incorporation founded to promote sustainable production through leadership, support, and research) teamed to use Teralytic probes for research. With the deep rooting system inherent to potatoes, the Teralytic probe sensor depths at 6, 18, and 36 inches have proven very informative—we're excited to examine these new data points as they accumulate.
With our current pilots, we are continuing to improve calibration curves for NPK data and quantifying accuracy in comparison to lab data. While we collect feedback and data from these farms, we're also working on additional nutrient sensors for the probes—such as an ammonium sensor—and developing a range of probe sizes (single-depth probes, 18-inch probes, etc.). And with Teralytic's leasing model, users will receive new sensor packets with improved capabilities as soon as they're available—your probe will never be out-of-date.
Teralytic strives to collect as much farmer and researcher feedback as possible—how can we help you? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments, and suggestions. And click here to learn more about our recent dashboard and API improvements.