Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (IIT-B), have designed and developed a low-cost microsensor that can detect the moisture content in soil. This microsensor will aid farmers in monitoring water content in soil at regular intervals, particularly in water-deficit areas. This sensor is 50 times cheaper than others available in the market.

Maryam Shojaei Baghini, a professor from electrical engineering department of IIT-B; Vinay S Palaparthy, professor from IIT-B’s Centre for Research in Nanotechnology and Science; M Aslam, a professor from IIT-B’s department of physics; Hemen Kalita, a professor from Gauhati University and Sandeep G Surya from Saudi Arabia’s KAUST came together to designed this robust, accurate and affordable soil moisture sensor using graphene oxide. “The sensor can detect minute changes in soil moisture and does not get affected by changes in the temperature and salt content in the soil said Baghini.

The team has estimated that with mass production, the sensor can be built-in cost as low as ₹2,000, whereas the existing commercial sensors available in the markets costs anywhere between ₹80,000 to ₹1.5 lakh. “When the moisture content in the soil changes, the various electrical properties of the soil also change. For example, electrical resistance decreases when the soil contains more moisture,” Baghini said. The microsensor designed by Baghini and her team can detect these changes and estimate accurate water content in varying temperatures.

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